Democratic Republic of Congo’s biggest logging companies are systematically violating national laws to plunder Congo’s forests, undermining efforts to protect the world’s second largest rainforest, a campaign group has said.
London-based Global Witness said in a report that none of Congo’s 87 million euros ($97 million) of timber production appeared to comply with international timber trade laws. Over half of the Congo basin’s 500 million hectares of forest are in Congo whose forests boast the fifth greatest diversity of animals and plants in the world. Logging in Congo has long been plagued by corruption and weak oversight.
In response, the government imposed a moratoriumin 2002 on all new industrial logging licenses. However, Global Witness said that the degradation of Congo’s forests due to illegal logging is getting worse, threatening endemic species like the forest elephant and the Okapi, a rare giraffe-like creature with zebra stripes. “We knew that (Congo) logging companies were breaking the law, but the extent of illegality is truly shocking,” Global Witness campaign leader Alexandra Pardal said in a statement.