Beleaguered DR Congo rainforest attacked on all sides | 3/3/2016 | Staff
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Lush rainforest covers millions of hectares of the Democratic Republic of Congo, a central part of Earth's natural defence against global warming—but it is under severe threat from a perfect storm of mismanagement and corruption.

An array of global and local NGOs are in a tense fight to save the rainforest, which lost an area twice the size of Luxembourg last year alone, according to Global Forest Watch.

Problems - DR - Congo - Charcoal - Fuel

But the problems run right through DR Congo society—from the poor who rely on charcoal for fuel in a country with meagre supplies of other power, to the senior officials who profit from illegal logging.

"There are lawmakers and soldiers involved. They don't pay taxes—it's unfair competition," says Felicien Liofo, head of a wood craftsmen's association.

Police - Soldiers - Fences - Forest - Anyone

Local police say soldiers simply rip apart the fences around the forest and threaten to shoot anyone who tries to stop them.

The government faces a daunting challenge to protect the rainforest.

Forestry - Code - Moratorium - Concessions - Number

Its 2002 forestry code imposed a moratorium on new concessions and regulated the number of trees that could be chopped down under existing permits, but officials complain of a lack of resources.

Felicien Malu, a provincial environment coordinator, has roughly 1,200 workers to cover a province twice the size of Portugal.

Staff - Tools - Trade—boats - Motorcycles - Pickup

But his staff, he says, are not paid and lack even the basic tools of their trade—boats, motorcycles or pickup trucks.

"We can't organise control missions because there are many rivers to cross and unpaved roads," he says.

Predecessor - Job - Embezzlement - Corruption - Problem

His predecessor in the job was suspended for embezzlement, underlining how corruption feeds the problem of deforestation.

NGOs have launched a multi-pronged attack against the plunder.

Greenpeace - Africa - Coalition - NGOs - DRC

Greenpeace Africa and a coalition of eight NGOs from DRC and neighbouring Congo-Brazzaville have demanded a halt to all industrial activities in the millions of hectares of peatland shared by the two countries.

The ancient wetlands store huge amounts of carbon, but...
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