DR Congo suspends 12 forestry contracts for violating moratorium
Published: Apr 27, 2022 05:40 PM
A general view of the Serena Hotel in Goma, the DR Congo on October 16
Photo: AFP

A general view of the Serena Hotel in Goma, the DR Congo on October 16 Photo: AFP

The Democratic Republic of the Congo's government has suspended 12 forestry contracts for violating a moratorium on new logging concessions in place since 2002, officials said Tuesday.

President Felix Tshisekedi announced in October 2021 that complaints had been made about irregularities over the granting of forestry concessions and that he had ordered the suspension of all "doubtful" contracts.

The 12 contracts suspended "protectively" by Environment Minister Eve Bazaiba in a decision dated April 5 cover nearly 2 million hectares in the provinces of Tshopo, Mongala, Mai-Ndombe and Equator.

The DRC's vast, biodiverse rainforests, including the UNESCO-listed Virunga National Park, play a vital role in fighting climate change as a major absorber of carbon dioxide.

At least four different environment ministers were involved in granting the 12 concessions to Congolese companies, starting from 2014.

Greenpeace Africa's forestry campaign chief Serge Sabin Ngwato said the minister had not gone nearly far enough.

"Minister Bazaiba's suspension of merely 12 out of dozens of illegally awarded logging concessions is as strange as a dentist removing only one rotten tooth and leaving other bad ones in place."

"Minister Bazaiba's actions must be fully transparent and comprehensive in order to protect the rainforest from environmental criminals," he said.

The environmental group in February charged that the DRC had failed to respect a multi million dollar agreement signed with Britain in 2021 to finance protecting its massive forests.

The DRC and Britain approved funds worth $500 million as part of the Central African Forest Initiative (CAFI).

Greenpeace said Congo's environment ministry failed to publish before the end of 2021 an audit by the country's spending watchdog of forestry concessions, the CAFI agreement's first milestone.