Aerial view of peatlands in the Cuvette Centrale region of DRC. The newly discovered area of peatlands is thought to be roughly the same size as England. Photo: Daniel Beltrá / Greenpeace

By Joe Sandler Clarke
19 July 2018

(Greenpeace) – Moves by the disputed President of the Democratic Republic of Congo Joseph Kabila to grant oil and logging licences in the world’s second largest rainforest have thrown efforts to protect the area into disarray, potentially weakening the push to avert the worst consequences of climate change.

Congo’s environment ministry reestablished three industrial logging concessions in the Congo Basin rainforest to Chinese-owned companies in February and set a process in motion to hand out 14 more.

Later the government signed oil prospecting concessions in two World Heritage Sites, Salonga and Virunga national parks.

The news has cast doubt on the future of the Central African Forest Initiative (CAFI), a multi-million dollar development and conservation project, established by the Norwegian government with international support in 2015.

Funding for the project has been suspended for months. With one CAFI member of staff telling Unearthed the organisation was “very concerned” to hear about the new concessions.

The Congo Basin rainforest stretches across six countries, from west to central Africa.

At over 500 million acres, more than three times the size of France, the rainforest is home to eight World Heritage Sites and an array of endangered species, including mountain gorillas and forest elephants.

Around 60 percent of the forest is located in DRC and despite having a logging moratorium in place since 2002, the country lost an area of forest ten times the size of Greater London between 2010 and 2014. Data submitted by the organisation Redd+ to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change shows that the DRC portion of the Congo Basin rainforest lost 1.6 million hectares in that four year period, the most recent available, equivalent to more than 6,177  square miles.

With long-delayed elections scheduled for 23 December 2018 and Kabila’s administration busy signing logging and oil licences there are fears that the country and the rainforest is entering a tense moment. [more]

DRC’s political turmoil puts Congo Basin rainforest in the crosshairs

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