The World Bank's independent inspection panel has found serious violations of its own rules as foreign companies were encouraged to destructively log the
Democratic Republic of Congo's (DRC) rainforests, endangering the lives of
thousands of Congolese Pygmies. The Bank has since 2002 sought to "create a favorable climate for industrial logging" in the Congo by rushing through new forestry laws and dividing the country's massive rainforests into logging zones.
This is the World Bank's most recent failure to promote "sustainable" ancient
rainforest logging, and comes as they position themselves to administer
international carbon market funds meant to protect ancient rainforests for their
climate benefits. The Bank's recently proposed $300 billion Forest Carbon
Partnership Facility (FCPF) will be part of U.N. climate change negotiations in
Bali in December to shape a successor to the Kyoto Protocol.
The concept of "avoided deforestation" -- whereby countries are paid to protect
forests -- has the potential to maintain standing rainforests in an intact,
fully functioning condition; while meeting reasonable local development needs.
Deforestation contributes 20 percent of total greenhouse gas emissions, more
than all the world's cars. For the first time a grouping of tropical rainforest
rich countries, called the "Forestry Eight" and controlling over 80 percent of
the world's tropical rainforests, agree and are proposing a plan to be paid to
protect their rainforests and thus reduce global warming.
Many crucial details regarding how avoided deforestation payments would work
remain undefined. The concept has been described as both strict preservation
(protection with no logging), and conservation payments for "sustainable forest
management". This is misleading. First time logging of primary rainforests --
selective, certified, ecosystem based or otherwise -- results in an immediate
huge release of carbon and a permanent disruption of future carbon storage.
To be maximally effective, avoided deforestation climate payments should only
support strict preservation of ancient forests; and not their "sustainable"
selective logging, certified or otherwise. Small scale, community based
eco-forestry activities may well be compatible with maintaining carbon storage,
ecosystem processes, and biodiversity patterns; yet any industrial development
activities must be excluded.
Throughout the globe, the World Bank has been laying the policy basis for, and
subsidizing, the industrial destruction of rainforests. To date, the Bank seems
more interested in ensuring Western access to ancient rainforest timbers than
maintaining ancient rainforests in an intact condition. On what basis can it now
claim to be an honest broker to manage carbon finance to maintain standing
A delegation of pygmies is to meet the new head of the World Bank in Washington
this week, and specifics of the proposed carbon/rainforest protection program
are being formulated now. Let the World Bank know that
they must completely rethink their forest policy in the DRC and the world.
Industrial ancient forest logging must be rejected and replaced with an emphasis
upon community development based upon standing, intact rainforests. This
requires abandoning subsidizing of DRC's industrial forestry, fully protecting
Pygmy rights and ensuring carbon payments are made only for strict rainforest
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Congo's and the world's rainforests must remain intact to maintain climate and meet forest dwellers' needs into the future
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