The Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) has announced their plan to lift its suspension
on logging – a move which will leave the world’s second-largest tropical forest at risk of
devastating deforestation. Will the move, as the government insists, be a step towards
sustainable forest protection in the Congo? Or will the move put the earth’s indispensable
second lung in jeopardy?

The ban on logging was instated in 2002 as a temporary measure. Though corruption meant
that this ban was not always adhered to, it legally protected the 500-million-acre Congo Basin
for almost two decades.

Importance of the Congo Rainforest.

The Congo Rainforest is crucial in the fight against global warming. The tropical rainforest
absorbs 600 million metric tonnes more carbon dioxide annually than it emits – making it an
effective tool in lowering global CO₂ levels.
It is also home to more than 10,000 animal species that rely on the diverse ecosystems of the
basin. Increased logging would lead to the decimation of these species who are relied upon by
local communities and by the ecosystem itself.
The Plans

The plan to lift the ban, which was announced in July, hopes to open up the forest for
commercial logging contracts which would generate revenue for the DRC.

Though the DRC lost 15.9 million hectares of tree cover between 2001 and 2020 despite the
ban being in place, this was primarily due to local community-based forestry. Opening the
Congo Rainforest to commercial contracts as well will be devastating to the local and global

Global Reaction

The plan has been met with an outcry worldwide. Laurence Duprat of Global Witness stated that
allowing commercial logging ‘would be a disaster for the rainforest and its inhabitants.
At the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26) this November, The DRC is set to
try to raise $1 billion in aid to fund conservation. However, an international coalition of
organisations such as Global Witness, Greenpeace, and Congolese indigenous groups have
written a letter to donor countries to urge that they only fund the protection of the rainforest on
the condition that the ban is reinstated.
It is unclear as of yet whether the DRC will receive this funding, but it is evident that the plan
has provoked great criticism from around the globe.

The Future of the Congo Rainforest

Even when the logging ban was in place, a University of Maryland study projected that there
would be no more primary Congo rainforest remaining by 2100. With the addition of commercial
logging to this also, this process will accelerate.
The rainforest is a livelihood and a centre for indigenous communities of DR Congo, and this must be protected for their sake and the sake of the health of the planet. However,
there is currently incredible traction in the advocacy work of NGOs (non-governmental
organisations) such as Greenpeace Africa and Global Witness. In conjunction with efforts from
indigenous communities, there remains hope for the future of the Earth’s second lung – the rich
and diverse Congo Rainforest.

Matt Robyns-Landricome


Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *