Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Congo launches review of logging contracts

Reuters: Congo, home to the world's second largest tropical forest, launched a review of all timber contracts on Wednesday in an effort to clean up a business rife with corruption and to recoup millions of dollars in lost taxes. The World Bank-sponsored initiative will look at 156 deals. Most were signed during a 1998-2003 war and subsequent interim government accused of awarding numerous dubious logging and mining contracts.

In 2002, with the country partially under the control of rebels, the Democratic Republic of Congo issued a five-year moratorium on new logging contracts as part of efforts to stem rampant deforestation aggravated by the conflict. The measure went largely unheeded and companies continued to sign new deals.

Logging and land clearance for farming are eating away the Congo Basin, home to more than a quarter of the world's tropical forest, at the rate of more than 800,000 hectares a year. Many contracts are expected to be cancelled outright by a review panel made up of government officials and independent experts. "What I'm hoping for is fewer concessions. What I'm hoping for is more revenues for the state. What I'm hoping for is better management of the forestry sector," Environment Minister Jose Endundu told reporters on Wednesday….

Brazzaville, Kinshasa and the Malebo Pool of the Congo River viewed either from a satellite or a guy with a really tall ladder, NASA, Wikimedia Commons

No comments: