Africa's Congo Basin contains the world's second largest rainforest; a haven for
vital global biodiversity and ecosystem services, and a safeguard against
runaway global warming. This locally, regionally and globally critical
ecological system is being devastated by illegal logging. Sadly, many
organizations trusted by their members and funders to protect ancient
rainforests continue to emphasize "improved forest governance", "sustainable
forest management" and "forest certification" after decades of failure to reform
Requirements for global ecological sustainability and socially just, equitable
sustainable development dictate that the Earth's entire remaining large,
contiguous rainforests are protected from any further industrial development.
Sadly, this will require confronting the global ancient forest logging apologist
The Congo Basin covers the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), most of Congo
Republic, the southeastern reaches of Cameroon, southern Central African
Republic, Gabon and mainland Equatorial Guinea. The DRC has the largest
rainforests, containing 1,352,070 square kilometers (522,037 miles) of natural
forests, representing six percent of the world’s tropical forests and more than
47 percent of Africa’s tropical forests. About 400 mammal species live in the
Congo Basin, including the world's largest populations of lowland gorillas,
chimpanzees, bonobos and forest elephants. Some 655 bird species and over 10,000
plant species can be found.
Industrial logging devastates these species and ecosystems, brings few local
benefits, while both local rainforest communities suffer as their rainforests
are razed for a pittance, and the entire globe's climate and biological wealth
are diminished. Up to 40 million people depend on the Congo rainforest for
survival. Forest communities have been promised miserable gifts such as bags of salt, machetes,
soap, coffee and beer in exchange for government-issued logging rights worth many millions of dollars. The loggers' promises to build hospitals and schools for forest communities almost always remain unfulfilled.
Large-scale protection of the region's rainforests is a requirement for
addressing global climate change. About 8% of the Earth's forest carbon storage
is trapped in the DRC's rainforests. Clearance of DRC's forests could release more than 34 billion tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere by
2050 -- the equivalent of UK's total emissions for the past 60 years. Even 'selective logging' releases massive amounts of carbon.
The World Bank is failing to stop logging firms from devastating the
tropical rainforests of the Democratic Republic of Congo. According to the
Bank-mediated 2002 logging moratorium deal, the government of the DRC agreed not
to issue any further logging licenses or to renew any existing contracts in
return for $90 million in development aid. Since then an estimated 100 logging
contracts covering 15 million hectares have been issued. Many are in the process
of being legalized as part of a review subsequently initiated by the World Bank.
The World Bank has yet again fallen short of its aims of bringing the logging
industry under control, making industrial logging environmentally and socially
acceptable, and ensuring local communities benefit from valuable logging
The DRC government, World Bank and even WWF and Greenpeace view large-scale
industrial "legal", "sustainable" and "certified" logging of the Congo and other rainforests as
the best that can be done to protect them and their biodiversity, their regional
and global ecosystem services, and development potential for the region's
peoples. The scientific literature and years of failed, ecologically and
socially devastating tropical rainforest logging show clearly that there is no
such thing as "sustainable management" of ancient forests. Logging primary forests for the first time results in species composition, structure and dynamics
that are irreversibly diminished and much of their carbon is released.
some two decades of failed Bank and mainstream conservation organization's
forest "sustainable" logging initiatives, which have consolidated the hold of
logging interests on the World's last ancient forests, and given concerns
regarding climate change, it is time to stop working to reform and instead shut
down ancient forest logging. Effected communities and nations must of course be
compensated by developed countries for this avoided deforestation and
DRC's rainforests and their environmental and social services will only be
sustained through protection and a complete cessation of industrial logging,
with development limited to community based small-scale eco-forestry activities.
In the face of ongoing illegal forest operations and climate change, the DRC
government, World Bank and conservation stakeholders must stop enabling
ecologically and socially criminal logging, and instead seek to end industrial
ancient forest logging and to fund community based alternatives.
WWF, the global conservation organization, has promoted industrial forest
certification in the DRC, and throughout the world's last natural, large and
intact forests. WWF works with and takes money from logging companies --
including some of the world's worst ecological abusers -- to help get their
primary rainforest logging operations certified. The supposed gold-standard of
forest certification is the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) which is closely
associated with both WWF and Greenpeace. There continue to be serious and
ongoing problems with the FSC including repeated issuing of totally unacceptable
certificates and certifiers certifying essentially whatever they want. The rules
on 'High Conservation Value Forests' are just one set of rules that are
routinely violated, and FSC's principles make no claims of ecological
It is terrible bordering on sacrilege that in the DRC, Greenpeace supports a
moratorium but not an end to industrial logging, that WWF continues to advocate and work with loggers to faciliate the "certified" diminishment of these ancient intact rainforests, and that the World Bank has failed to enforce the logging moratorium and continues to subsidize national policy and institutions that promote industrial logging of ancient forests. How many WWF and Greenpeace members realize they are supporting industrial logging of the world's last ancient rainforests?
The ultimate aim of Ecological Internet's "End Ancient Forest Logging" campaign
is to get the World Bank, other donors and mainstream conservation bureaucracies
completely out of the business of supporting industrial ancient forest logging
-- and in particular to stop supporting national forestry institutions and
policy that perpetuates the industrial logging model. One might expect such
reformist clap-trap in the face of decades of failed rainforest policy from the
World Bank, that is intent upon ensuring access to natural resources for global
economic growth; but sadly WWF and Greenpeace have also undoubtedly become part
of the problem. Both Greenpeace and WWF continue to write great reports
illustrating the problems, drawn upon for this alert, yet have uncritically,
dangerously and wrongly embraced certified, sustainable commercial scaled
logging as the solution to the world's rainforest diminishment.
They are wrong, and today is the beginning of a movement to call them on it, and
gain commitments to work for an end to industrial logging of ancient forests.
WWF's and Greenpeace's embrace of FSC certified logging of ancient rainforests
is not conservation, it is prostitution. Let Congo rainforest stakeholders know
you demand a future for the Congo that is free of industrial rainforest
clearance. And put the World Bank, WWF and Greenpeace on notice that their
forest conservation policies are opposed and will be exposed and stopped.
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The Congo Basin must remain intact for local, regional and global ecological sustainability
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