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Logging in the Congo

The FDA ‘is failing Africa and undermining France’s own climate goals'
Logging in the Congo Picture from MyGreenPod Sustainable News

As France brokers talks on a global deal to cut carbon emissions at the Paris climate summit, Global Witness has revealed how the French Development Agency (FDA) has invested over 120 million euros in logging companies that are dismantling the world’s second largest rainforest.

Forests could end global hunger – one billion people depend on forests for balanced diets and sustainable incomes

Logging in the Congo

With almost 12% of global greenhouse emissions coming from forest destruction, scientists and NGOs – including Global Witness, Greenpeace, Rainforest Foundation UK, OCEAN DRC and Brainforest Gabon – are calling on France to end its support of industrial logging in the Congo Basin.

‘At COP21 the French Development Agency is promoting itself as a major investor in climate-friendly projects, including forest protection.

‘But our investigations show that for the last 20 years it has invested millions to support the Congo Basin’s logging industry, which is linked to forest destruction, illegal logging, tax avoidance and complicity with violence against local populations.’

Alexandra Pardal of Global Witness

Bankrolling conflict

A 2015 Global Witness exposé showed that the FDA had supported logging companies that broke environmental and social safeguards and helped bankroll the Central African Republic’s bloody conflict by dealing with armed groups guilty of mass murder.

In 2014 an EU-funded audit showed that no logging company operating in Cameroon could be considered legal. In Democratic Republic of Congo, 90% of forest taxes failed to reach public coffers in 2012 because of tax avoidance by logging companies.

The FDA – a public development agency and bank – justifies its grants and loans to large-scale logging companies by claiming that they are used for technical support to help minimise the environmental impact of logging and for the economic development of forest-rich yet cash-poor countries.

Protecting economic interests

European logging companies have been active in the Congo Basin since the colonial era. Industrial loggers now control 44 million hectares of forest in Central Africa – around a quarter of the total rainforest.

‘It is farcical to suggest that logging can be environmentally sound. Every tree that is felled drags eight others down with it. Once cut, primary forest takes between six and eight centuries to recover.

‘The French Development Agency’s investment policy is clearly tailored to France’s own economic interests – it is failing Africa and undermining France’s own climate goals. If we are expected to take France’s COP leadership seriously, the government must commit to divesting from industrial logging, a business that is at stark odds with a healthy climate and a sustainable future.’

Alexandra Pardal of Global Witness

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