The forestry sector makes an important contribution to the country’s economy. This is likely to continue, with 90% of the country’s lowland forests designated for logging. Timber is exported primarily to the EU and China (Chatham House, 2014).
Serious governance problems in the forest sector are reflected in the high levels of illegal logging within the country, which are estimated at about 70% of production. This includes both small-scale, artisanal logging for domestic markets (estimated to represent 20% of all logging), and large-scale logging by concessionaires producing timber for export (Chatham House, 2014).
Congo entered into negotiations for a voluntary partnership agreement (VPA) with the EU in June 2008. The agreement was signed in May 2010 and ratified in February 2013 (EFI). It has also been participating in REDD+ activities: its readiness preparation proposal under the World Bank’s Forest Carbon Partnership Facility was finalised in 2011; and a UN-REDD programme was approved in late 2012. Despite some recent progress with implementation of the VPA and the establishment of an independent monitor, very few of the necessary policies and regulations needed to ensure good forest governance have been implemented. Priorities for action to address illegal logging include the enforcement of legislation, tackling corruption and improving legality in the artisanal sector. (Chatham House, 2014)