Multinational companies are profiting hand over fist from abusive forestry practices in the Democratic Republic of Congo, where illegal logging, mislabelled timber and false permits are widespread, according to several non-governmental organisations.
The forests of the Congo basin in central Africa cover about 100 million hectares (almost 250 million acres) and are regarded as the second-largest green lung on the planet after the Amazon rainforest, but in DR Congo trees are being cut down with little regard for the law. Local and international NGOs charge that Congolese authorities are working with logging companies.
In spite of tighter regulations recently adopted in Europe on imports of timber from Africa, it is almost impossible to verify the legality of tropical wood from DR Congo, according to the British-based non-profit organisation Resource Extraction Monitoring.
The group, which has staff in the field to investigate illegal activity, says the country’s timber industry is tarnished by “widespread fraud and illegal logging”.
Wenge (millettia laurentii), a heavy, dark and deeply patterned wood used for decoration and building, is both widely sought and listed as endangered—meaning it can fetch large sums of money, though little of that ends up in local hands.
“A cubic metre (35 cubic feet) of Wenge is worth five American dollars in the forest when it is legally bought from local communities. When it arrives in a port and is loaded on a boat, it costs $450 (350 euros), and taxation is based on this rate. Yet in Europe, it sells for between 5,000 and 8,000 euros,” an expert who asked not to be named told AFP.
“The loss of income for the Congolese state and population is enormous.”
Read more at: Phys.org