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DRC forests threatened by illegal logging- NGO

Democratic Republic Of Congo

<p>The Democratic Republic of Congo, one of the “green lungs” of the planet, is threatened by illegal logging, says Tuesday the <span class="caps">NGO</span> Global Witness which asks timber importing countries including France to take measures.</p> <p>“It is not surprising that the law is flouted in the <span class="caps">DRC</span>, but it is shocking that France does so little to stop its imports of illegally harvested timber,” denounced a Jules Caron <span class="caps">NGO</span> official in a report.</p> <p>The <span class="caps">NGO</span> claims to have investigated Norsudtimber’s activities in the <span class="caps">DRC</span> for two years. This Liechtenstein-based company operates forest concessions as large as Switzerland (40,000 km2) and controlled nearly 60% of the timber trade in this country in 2017, according to the <span class="caps">NGO</span>.</p> <p>“Norsudtimber operates almost entirely illegally, in violation of the essential points of the Congolese forestry code,” writes the <span class="caps">NGO</span>, which reproduces satellite images tracing logging.</p> <p>“78% of Norsudtimber’s timber exports went to China and Vietnam between 2013 and 2017. Europe accounts for 11%, mainly Portugal and France”, according to the <span class="caps">NGO</span>.</p> <p>The <span class="caps">NGO</span> is asking the French Development Agency (<span class="caps">AFD</span>) to cancel an 18 million dollar programme over four years that would “go against climate and forest protection objectives” and “amount to supporting companies that emit CO2 and do not respect the law (such as Norsudtimber)”.</p> <p>“For several years, this <span class="caps">NGO</span> has been attacking <span class="caps">AFD</span> for a programme designed with the Congolese authorities to improve governance in the forestry sector,” replied <span class="caps">AFD</span>, which was joined by <span class="caps">AFP</span> in Kinshasa.</p> <p>The <span class="caps">DRC</span> is home to 60% of the Congo Basin forest, one of the last “lungs” of the planet.</p> <p>The <span class="caps">NGO</span> Greenpeace believes that its deforestation would threaten the fight against global warming by releasing carbon dioxide stored in large quantities in the peat bogs of tropical forests.</p> <p>A team of Global Witness observers was expelled from <span class="caps">DRC</span> in 2016 while investigating a logging site in Norsudtimber, the <span class="caps">NGO</span> said in its report.</p> <p><strong><span class="caps">AFP</span></strong></p>

It is not surprising that the law is flouted in the DRC, but it is shocking that France does so little to stop its imports of illegally harvested timber.

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