Greenpeace-Rainforest Foundation: DRC government reinstates illegal logging concessions in breach of its own moratorium
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Press Release - February 20, 2018
Kinshasa, 20 February 2018. The Congolese Minister of Environment, Amy Ambatobe, has reinstated 6,500 km² of logging concessions that were cancelled in August 2016 by one of his predecessors, Robert Bopolo, on the orders of then Prime Minister Augustin Matata Ponyo. The three concessions which were reinstated on 1 February 2018 were awarded to the Chinese-owned logging companies FODECO and SOMIFOR.
Two of the concessions encroach on 145 000 km2 of recently discovered peatlands which are thought to hold over 30 billion tons of carbon. The expansion of logging operations into these areas could be one of the biggest threats to the preservation of the peatlands.
"We are saddened to note that the Ministry of the Environment has illegally reinstated these concessions, despite their previous cancellation and in breach of the 2002 Moratorium, says Irene Wabiwa Betoko, forest campaign manager at Greenpeace Africa. Greenpeace Africa calls on the Congolese Government to revoke these new concessions and, this time, to take action to punish those responsible for this situation."
In October 2017, the Norwegian-funded Central African Forest Initiative authorized the transfer of USD41.2 million to the DRC’s national fund for Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation (REDD+). The payment was supposed to follow the establishment of a "strong action plan" and internal monitoring measures by the Congolese Government. However, because of failure on CAFI’s part to push hard for the adoption of measures to prevent any future violations of the Moratorium, substantial sums have been paid even as the DRC Government has continued to restore of illegal logging concessions.
Oj Blackman, a campaign manager at Global Witness, says: "We call on CAFI to suspend its funding with immediate effect as long as the DRC Government does not revoke the reinstated concessions, enforce the moratorium and punish those responsible for allocating the illegal concessions".