The President of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Félix Tshisekedi, during a meeting of the Council of Ministers, demanded the suspension of all “dubious” contracts in terms of forest concessions. He asked his Minister of the Environment, Eve Bazaïba, to draw up the list and present it to the next cabinet meeting.
The measure was welcomed by environmentalists in the DRC who believe that this decision marks a step in the right direction in the context of nature protection.
In 2020 alone, 4 million 600 hectares of Congolese forest were fraudulently sold, according to Radio France Internationale (RFI), which quotes the NGOs. Operating permits disguised as a safeguard contract or concessions granted without respect for procedures.
“First, the very fact that this issue can be on the agenda is a good start. We, therefore, welcome this decision very favorably, especially since we had addressed appeals to the Minister of the Environment – who did not react at all – that the president received and who had to draw her attention to these questions ” said Augustin Mpoyi legal adviser to CODELT, who recalled that the president’s request to suspend questionable contracts pending a wider audit is a signal of hope.
As the UK is hosting the 26th Glasgow Climate Change Conference (COP26), all eyes are on the Congo Basin forest, which is the second green lung on the planet after the Amazon Basin. Faced with global warming, the DRC wants to position itself as a solution country. But Irène Wabiwa Betoko of Greenpeace Africa warns: there cannot be at the same time – an inventory and the end of the moratorium on new forest titles, as announced in July.
“The forestry industry is not under control right now. It is inconceivable to think of extending this same industry to more than thirty million, fifty million – it depends – by lifting the moratorium! We must first start to manage what exists well before starting to expand these same spaces,” said Wabiwa.
The Head of the International Congo Basin Forests Project of Greenpeace Africa encourages the President of DRC to remain vigilant and to ensure the execution and effective implementation of this decision by the Deputy Prime Minister. She clarified that
"His Excellency President Tshisekedi’s decision against the illegal actions of former Minister Nyamugabo sends an important message to the Congolese people and their government. It is also a red light for the project of Ms Ève Bazaiba, current Minister of the Environment, to open a highway to deforestation by predators of Congolese forests by lifting the moratorium on new industrial concessions. “
Greenpeace Africa reiterates its call for the maintenance of the moratorium on new industrial logging concessions in order to avoid the social and climatic disasters that the expansion of the forest industry would cause.