One year after the publication of a Greenpeace Africa report on the situation of the logging sector in Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), and the entry into force of the European Union Timber Regulation (EUTR), the DRC forest sector remains in a state of organized chaos and continues to supply the illegal timber to the European market.
Exactly a year ago Greenpeace Africa published the report Cut It Out: Illegal logging in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Compiled through research and field trips, the report outlines the devastating effects of the lack of governance, law enforcement and transparency, on the second largest tropical rainforest in the world and on the people who depend on these forests for their livelihoods.
The publication of the report coincided with the entry into force of the EUTR, which prohibits illegally harvested timber and timber products from being traded on the European market.
12 months on, despite this legislation and limited progress, the organized chaos continues. Some logging companies continue to operate illegally: bypassing a moratorium on new industrial logging titles through the illegal use of artisanal permits, and some continue to use violence against local communities.
"The logging companies violate the Congolese laws and the rights of forest communities in total impunity," said Raoul Monsembula, National Coordinator of Greenpeace Africa in DRC. "The forest sector in DRC remains out of control, several cases of illegality, some with violation of human rights, have been identified and exposed by Greenpeace Africa."
With strict enforcement by EU governments, the EUTR could contribute to the fight against illegal logging and related trade in the DRC as well as in Europe. Unfortunately, several cases of suspected illegal wood imports into the EU from companies in the DRC have been exposed by Greenpeace and its partners during the last 12 months.
The most recent case occurred in January 2014, when Greenpeace France filed complaints under the EUTR after exposing a batch of suspected illegal timber in the port of Caen from Sicobois. Findings published today from field research by Greenpeace Africa show the company not only logs illegally but is directly and repeatedly linked to violent social conflict in its logging concessions in the province of Equateur.
"The EUTR was a welcome new legislation, but the first year of its mandate has demonstrated that governments and competent authorities have to step up and ensure that proper enforcement of the law is possible," says Danielle Van Oijen, forest campaigner with Greenpeace Netherlands.
"Protecting the Congo Basin forest needs several actors to act. The DRC government needs to implement the existing moratorium, improve the legal framework and its enforcement, and strengthen forest governance and anti-corruption measures.
Governments in Europe must make enforcement of the EUTR a priority and significantly increase resources. Companies in Europe must comply with the law and take illegal timber out of their supply chain." Conclude Raoul Monsembula.