There are concerns that the government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) is considering lifting a long-standing ban on the expansion of industrial logging in its rainforests, thus handing over tens of millions of hectares of virgin forest to loggers and leading to the destruction of the ecosystem and local peoples’ livelihoods while fueling climate change.
This was expressed in a statement emailed to EnviroNews on Wednesday, October 6, 2021, by environmental organisation, Rainforest Rescue, which has taken up a campaign to urge DRC’s international development partners to demand that the DRC government keep its logging ban in place.
Rainforest Rescue is seeking support to a petition, titled: “Congo rainforest to be felled despite international climate funding? Help us stop it!”, to this effect.
“Stop the imminent threat to the Congo Basin rainforest from the lifting of the DRC moratorium on new logging concessions,” urges the group, even as it makes a plea “demanding that the international community insists that the logging moratorium stays in place”.
According to Bettina Behrend of Rainforest Rescue, the Congo Basin Forest in Central Africa, believed to be the second largest rainforest on the planet, is home to a diversity of species, including chimpanzees, bonobos, and forest elephants. They are also home to millions of people and store countless gigatons of carbon.
Behrend adds that international donor agencies have been giving the DRC hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars to protect its forest to help prevent climate-changing emissions from deforestation.
“Despite this, the DRC government is considering lifting a long-standing ban on the expansion of industrial logging in its rainforests. This could imperil an area of tropical forest the size of France.
“Opening some of the world’s last remaining intact tropical forests to industrial logging would be a disaster. Tens of millions of hectares of virgin forest could be handed over to the loggers – destroying the ecosystem and local peoples’ livelihoods while fuelling climate change,” insists Behrend.
The group adds: “Opening up the forests to industrial logging would be an unmitigated disaster for the climate, biodiversity, rule of law, and human rights of forest communities.
“Any lifting of the ban, which could imperil an area of tropical forest the size of France, may also increase the risk of future outbreaks of zoonotic diseases such as Ebola and COVID-19.
“The international community should help pay to protect DRC’s forests, but the government must equally commit to keeping those forests closed to loggers.”