Letter on DR Congo’s proposed lifting of the moratorium on new industrial logging concessions
To the representatives of the governments of: Belgium, France, Germany, Norway, the United Kingdom, the United States
To members of the Central Africa Forest Initiative (CAFI)
To the CBFP, EU, FAO, UNDP, World Bank
It is with great alarm that we alert you to plans to imminently lift the moratorium on new logging concessions in the DRC. These plans have become clear over the last few days and have been confirmed by the Minister for Environment and Sustainable Development, Amy Ambatobe. Simultaneously, a revision of the country’s Forest Code, understood to now be at an advanced stage, has been secretly underway without the involvement of key stakeholders, including NGOs, and is likely to see a weakening of the controls over future logging activities.
We believe that these plans, which appear to be linked to political manoeuvring amidst the worsening turmoil of the country, will have catastrophic environmental, social and climatic impacts, particularly in a context where forest governance remains chronically weak or non-existent.
They particularly threaten to undermine many international forest protection efforts in the country, including the Central African Forest Initiative, (CAFI), the Carbon Fund Mai Ndombe jurisdictional REDD programme, the Forest Investment Programme, the USAID-backed CARPE programme, and the integrity of protected areas’ programmes run by GIZ and KfW. It would be incompatible with several pillars of the National REDD+ Strategy, and the National REDD+ Investment plan. It is very likely that globally important peatswamps beneath forests will be threatened.
Minister Ambatobe, apparently motivated by narrow political and economic interests, has recently awarded three concessions covering 6,500 square kilometres, in breach of the moratorium.
We thus call on you to:
a. Immediately suspend all funding through your respective programmes to DRC government agencies for forestry and forest conservation;
b. Inform the DRC government that such funds will remain suspended until the current nontransparent & non-inclusive process of revision of the Forest Code is halted and a clear commitment is made not to consider the lifting of the moratorium until the government can credibly guarantee the legality and proper governance of the sector.
We very much hope you will take our recommendations into consideration.
25 Feb 2021