International NGOs oppose imminent lifting of moratorium on allocation of new industrial logging concessions in Democratic Republic of Congo, say it would 'make a mockery' of DRC's aspirations to benefit from REDD forest protection funding

LONDON , April 8, 2014 (press release) – The Rainforest Foundation UK (RFUK) has joined forces with other international campaigning NGOs to oppose the imminent lifting of a moratorium on the allocation of new industrial logging concessions in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

A joint statement released by RFUK, Greenpeace International, Global Witness and other organisations issued yesterday, (Monday 7th April), claims that the lifting of the moratorium, which has been in place since 2008, would “make a mockery” of DRC’s intended plans to benefit from forest protection funding under schemes to prevent climate change (known as ‘REDD’).”

It would also undermine the purpose of a national exercise to map and zone the forest for different uses for which substantial international funds have already been committed.

According to the statement, the conditions for lifting the moratorium, which were set out in a legal decree signed by DRC’s President, Joseph Kabila, have not been met. Most industrial logging concessions still have no agreed forest management plans or social contracts with affected communities. After twelve years of so-called ‘forest reform’, the Decree governing the allocation and management of community forests has still not been adopted, denying communities the right to manage their ancestral forests themselves.

The call for the DRC Government to reinstate its intention to uphold the moratorium comes after the Royal Institute for International Affairs (Chatham House) published a new study showing that almost all current logging in the DRC is illegal. Another recent study has shown that only a fraction of the taxes payable by existing logging companies are ever collected.

Simon Counsell, executive director at RFUK said that the Congolese government had the unique opportunity to show that it will try a different approach from other countries such as Cameroon that are logging and losing their forests.

“Local people should first be given the chance to take charge of their local forests and manage them for their own well-being,” he said.

“Lifting the moratorium on new logging concessions would potentially open the floodgates to a surge of damage and deforestation across tens of millions of acres of DRC’s rainforests,” Mr Counsell concluded.

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