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Congo set to halt most logging

Source:  Copyright 2009, Reuters
Date:  January 19, 2009
Byline:  Joe Bavier
Original URL: Status ONLINE

Logging must stop on nearly 13 million hectares of forest in Democratic Republic of Congo after a government review canceled nearly 60 percent of the vast country's timber contracts, the government said on Monday.

Congo, home to the second largest tropical forest in the world after the Amazon, has completed a long-delayed review of 156 logging deals aimed at stamping out corruption in the sector and enforcing minimum legal and environmental standards.

Logging, mining, and land clearance for farming are eating away at the Congo Basin, which accounts for more than a quarter of the world's tropical forest, at a rate of over 800,000 hectares a year -- an area roughly the size of Massachusetts.

At the end of the six-month long World Bank-backed process, a panel of government ministers found that only 65 timber deals were viable. The rest will now be canceled, Environment Minister Jose Endundo told a news conference in Kinshasa.

"I will ...

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