Democratic Republic of Congo

Democratic Republic of Congo

The Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) has the largest forest area in the Congo Basin, with around 150 million hectares of forest, equivalent to almost 70% of the country’s land area (EFI; FAO, 2015). The formal forest sector makes a significant contribution to the national economy, forest rents representing nearly 20% of the country’s GDP (World Bank, 2014). Although the deforestation rate is relatively low compared with that of many other tropical countries, it is significant and has been increasing over the last two decades. For the period 2010-15, the annual deforestation rate was 0.2% (FAO, 2015).

Illegal logging is a significant problem in the DRC. NGO reports published in recent years have revealed particular problems with the misuse of artisanal logging permits by industrial companies. Nearly 90% of logging in the DRC is informal, small-scale logging to supply domestic and regional markets (Chatham House, 2014).

The government of the DRC has taken some steps to curb the trade in illegal timber. A new Forest Code was introduced in 2002, which introduces a fairer allocation process for timber concessions, maintains traditional forest user rights, encourages public participation in decision making, and promotes sustainable forest management. The country also began negotiations for a voluntary partnership agreement (VPA) with the EU in October 2010 (Chatham House, 2014, EFI).