How the DRC secretly violated its own moratorium on the allocation of new forest concessions (DRC)


Centrafrique Libre

Date Published

A Greenpeace investigation in Africa
( reveals that the Congolese
government granted three concessions in 2015 with a total area of
650,000 hectares to the company Millennium Forest SARL (SOMIFOR) in
the provinces of Equateur and Tshuapa, as well as the Forest Society
for the Development of Congo SARL (FODECO) in the province of Tshopo,
violating the moratorium it set up in 2002 regarding the allocation of
new logging titles.

On January 30, 2016, Robert Bopolo Mbongeza, the Minister of the
Environment, Nature Conservation and Sustainable Development (MECNND),
said that “the steps are being taken” to get the government to lift
the moratorium. [1] At the time of this announcement, the Minister
could not be unaware that his predecessor had illegally awarded three
new forest concessions. Greenpeace researchers have obtained these
contracts signed in 2015 by the Minister of the Environment and
Sustainable Development of the time, Welcome Liyota Ndjoli. The report

Today, Greenpeace presents evidence that with these attributions made
in secrecy, the Congolese government circumvents the moratorium with
the intention of raising it before the prerequisites are met, thus
threatening the second largest tropical forest in the world.

Yet it is clear that the preconditions for lifting the protective
measures are far from being achieved, and that such a measure would
result in an even more chaotic situation in the forestry sector. “We
demand that the Congolese government to not only immediately cancel
the contracts of concession and the SOMIFOR FODECO presented by
Greenpeace, but also to determine if there were other violations of
the moratorium, and to ensure that the officials involved in these
illegalities are punished,” says Irene Wabiwa Betoko, Head of Forest
campaign of Greenpeace Africa. In a letter dated June 9, Greenpeace
asked for clarification on these flagrant violations of the moratorium
to the Minister of the Environment, but has received no response to
date. This folder will also be forwarded to the Attorney General of
the Republic of the DRC so that he can investigate these cases.

Covering an area of 155 million hectares, the forest of the DRC
represents about one-tenth of what remains of the rainforest in the
world. It is home to forest elephants, gorillas, bonobos, okapi,
hundreds of species of birds, and thousands of plants. The moratorium
was enacted in 2002, just after the end of the war, to prevent the
looting of the immense forests and to protect biodiversity. With
support from the World Bank, the DRC was supposed to transform the
forest sector into a sustainable industry that would generate billions
of dollars in revenue and thousands of jobs while protecting the
forest. Yet instead of putting in place the measures to which it was
committed, the Congolese government has violated many times the
moratorium by granting many illegal securities, fueling corruption and
creating enormous economic and social damage.

To oppose the lifting of the moratorium, Greenpeace and other
environmental and anti-corruption organizations gathered in a
coalition early 2016 [2]. “The Congolese Government must maintain this
moratorium on the licensing of new forest exploitation as long as the
conditions defined by the law are not met,” Irène Wabiwa requested.
“Industrial forestry development brought back only eight million
American dollars to the Treasury in 2014 [3], thus authorities should
explore and promote alternatives such as community forestry,” she

About 40 million people find their means of livelihood in the
Congolese forest, as food or firewood. Forest cover of the DRC can
store 7% of global carbon emissions, thus becoming one of the largest
carbon reservoirs in the world.