The Democratic Republic of the Congo, DRC, is home to the planet’s second biggest rainforest. It’s unbelievably precious, home to bonobos, one of our closest relatives, amongst numerous other unique flora and fauna. The government is about to remove a 2002 moratorium on new industrial logging, and conservation groups are up in arms. It’s yet another case of human interests versus nature, where short termism trumps long term benefits.
Deforestation, climate change and local people’s needs
Environmental groups across the planet say ending the logging ban flies in the face of the nation’s international forest protection reforms and damages international efforts to combat climate change.
Rainforest conservation is vital to the human race’s longer term survival. But at the same time around 40 million people depend on the Republic’s forests for food, fuel, water and more. And this is why the country is thinking of making the move. The decision is based on economics, according to a statement by the DRC’s Environment Minister Robert Bopolo Bogeza. And he confesses that the lifting of the ban is already underway.
Logging so far has been an economic fail in the DRC
Conservationists don’t think the move would help the DRC’s economy. They say the average citizen would see a ‘negligible’ benefit from handing out more logging contracts. The logging companies themselves also have a vital role to play in conservation, and they’re obviously not taking that role seriously, also hooked on dangerous short term thinking and fast profits.
About a tenth of the country’s rainforest is already being logged, but 2014 saw just 8 million US dollars in revenue from the sector, about 12 cents for every head of the Congo’s population, hardly worth the bother. And the downsides for everyone on earth are profound.
7 million hectares already lost to illegal logging
The online forest monitoring people at Global Forest Watch have revealed the DRC lost about 7 million hectares of forest between 2003 and 2014, mostly through illegal logging. Most of the losses occurred in the northern Congo Basin rainforests.
Conservationists say the moratorium on will put the DRC’s remaining primary forest at risk as well as damaging worldwide efforts to halt global warming. Some even say the move will prove a catastrophe for DRC’s forests. They say that rather than encourage industrial logging, the country’s government should commit to long-term forest protection and community investment.
Let’s hope common sense prevails and the DRC’s government changes focus to logging alternatives to help the country’s people prosper.
Article by The Rainforest Foundation.