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Democratic Republic of the Congo
Risk Score
97.7
Risk Profile
Higher Risk
Conflict State
Yes
Log Export Restriction
Yes
Other Timber Export Restrictions
No
Import Regulation
No
Legality Risks Click for details on legality risks

Deforestation rates have almost doubled in the last decade (2010-2020) compared with 2000-2010. The DRC reported a loss of over one million hectares annually between 2010 and 2020, the third highest in the world behind China and Brazil. Much of this recorded loss has taken place in the last few years, with the University of Maryland reporting that 2017 was a record year for tree cover loss in the DRC. Deforestation is reportedly driven by a range of factors, with studies pointing to slash-and-burn agriculture and, increasingly, artisanal logging which is often illegal, as well as charcoal production. Industrial forest concessions only cover roughly 7 percent of the DRC’s forests with the World Resources Institute suggesting that just 10 percent of the 2017 forest loss occurred inside logging concessions.

  • Illegal logging is increasing and driving deforestation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).
  • There are well-publicized governance challenges, subnational conflict, and reports of corruption in the DRC’s timber sector.
  • There is a high risk that timber has been logged without the proper permits or that the permits were corruptly obtained.  
  • There remains a risk of unsustainable and illegal trade in Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) listed species. 
  • Forest laws are not well-enforced.
  • Non-mandated independent monitoring and watchdog groups are facing intimidation.
  • Tax evasion is widespread.
  • Direct exports to U.S. and European Union (EU) markets have fallen significantly, while exports to Vietnam and India have rapidly risen.

Read more by downloading the DRC Timber Legality Risk Dashboard here.

 

Latest Updates Click for latest news from Democratic Republic of the Congo
August 12, 2024
New Report from ACSS: Illegal Logging in Africa and Its Security Implications

Illegal logging is a growing feature of transnational organized crime in Africa, often facilitated by the collusion of senior officials, with far-reaching security and environmental implications for the countries affected.

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May 6, 2024
Forestry company under fire for illegal timber harvest in DR Congo

The NGO Global Witness is accusing Chinese timber company Congo King Baisheng Forestry Development (CKBFD) of exporting more than $5 million worth of illegal timber from the Democratic Republic of Congo to China at the end of 2022.  CKBFD had already been criticized by local NGOs and the DRC’s national auditing service for poor logging management and for failing to pay timber royalties.

 

According to several NGOs, forest resources that Indigenous peoples and local communities are dependent on are decreasing due to CKBFD’s operations, which are causing deforestation. An adviser to the DRC’s environment minister said he hopes a new, more binding legal framework will soon be established to remedy the situation.

 

Also featured here: Puncturing the second lung of the world | Global Witness (archive.org)

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April 5, 2024
In Kampala, ‘Made in Uganda’ furniture pride obscures ‘open secret’ of illicit Congolese timber

Part of an ongoing investigation in how Congo’s trees are smuggled through East Africa, this article highlights:

  • smuggled Democratic Republic of Congo hardwood to  furniture makers who import more than $1m worth of timber a year

  • Ugandan prisoners are involved in the manufacturing of this timber into furniture
  • Leading furniture companies in Kampala also rely on mahogany that is smuggled outright from the DRC or transported with fake documents or no documents
  • Once timber arrives at the markets in Kampala and furniture workshops, it is no longer illegal, due to loopholes in the law.
More...
April 4, 2024
Tropical forest loss puts 2030 zero-deforestation target further out of reach

The overall rate of primary forest loss across the tropics remained stubbornly high in 2023, putting the world well off track from its net-zero deforestation target by 2030, according to a new report from the World Resources Institute.

 

The few bright spots were Brazil and Colombia, where changes in political leadership helped drive down deforestation rates in the Amazon.

 

Elsewhere, however, several countries hit record-high rates of forest loss, including the Democratic Republic of Congo, Bolivia and Laos, driven largely by agriculture, mining and fires.

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April 4, 2024
‘Big men’, an ugly history, and the ruthless Congo Basin timber smuggling business

The illicit DRC-Uganda raw wood trade has a difficult past, involving the military, rebels, high-level politicians and unabated trafficking, laid out in the second part of our investigation into the eastern Africa timber industry.

 

According to the investigation, raw wood without documentation is smuggled openly in Lia and along 160km around the village. The illegal entry points are not hidden in heavily forested areas but occur in small settlements that are often not far from official borders. The smugglers are facilitated by people who live in communities on both sides of the border.

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April 3, 2024
Timber hustling: Lia, a thriving hub for Congolese mahogany trafficked to Uganda, Kenya

For at least 25 years, high-ranking Ugandan officials have turned a blind eye to pillaging hardwood from the Congo Basin in the DRC, according to the UN. The illegal, and rampant, deforestation continues as a small village turns into a timber station.

This is the first article in a four-part investigation into a Congolese wood trafficking hub on the border of Uganda. It reveals a burgeoning trade and an open secret.

This series was produced in partnership with the Pulitzer Center Rainforest Investigations Network.

More...
April 3, 2024
How Congo’s trees are smuggled through East Africa

Criminals in East Africa are exploiting the multiple conflicts in the north-east of the DRC to allow the trafficking of its protected hardwoods.

The key economies in the East African Community – Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda – are all benefiting from this timber trafficking and flagrantly breaking their environmental pledges. The illicit trade is facilitated by ‘big men’ close to security services and politicians across the region – they ensure the border controls fail.

Corrupt payments by the loggers and truckers to border checkpoints oil the wheels of the trade, where fake certificates of origin are produced for a large fee.

More...
March 5, 2024
UN Decries Illegal Trade and Transit of Illegal Wildlife and Rosewood

The UN has decried illegal trade in wildlife and forest products in Nigeria with little effective prosecution. The 2023 UNODC Organized Crime Threat Assessment for Nigeria revealed that Nigeria is a key transit hub and consolidation point for various forms of illegal trade in wildlife and forest products (including rosewood). These products are sourced both from Nigeria as well as other countries in the region including Cameroon, Gabon, the Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Liberia, Cote d’Ivoire and Benin Republic.

Other related news cites more than 1000 records between 2011 and 2020 indicating that Nigeria is a source, transit, or destination country, or that the offender was a Nigerian national. Nigeria deals on illegal wildlife, forest products – Blueprint Newspapers Limited

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January 19, 2024
Mapping the diversity of land uses following deforestation across Africa

The first high-resolution (5 m) and continental-scale
mapping of land use following deforestation in Africa, including humid and dry forests.

 

Results show, not surprisingly,  that the causes of forest loss vary by region. In general, small-scale cropland is the
dominant driver of forest loss in Africa, with hotspots in Madagascar and DRC. In addition, commodity
crops such as cacao, oil palm, and rubber are the dominant drivers of forest loss in the humid forests of
western and central Africa, forming an “arc of commodity crops” in that region. At the same time, the
hotspots for cashew are found to increasingly dominate in the dry forests of both western and southeastern Africa, while larger hotspots for large-scale croplands were found in Nigeria and Zambia.

More...
October 25, 2023
Global Witness names Chinese firm for illegal logging in DR Congo

Using satellite imagry, Global Witness reports that despite Chinese-owned Congo King Baisheng Forestry Developments’ logging concession being suspended in April 2022, the company continued to log rare hardwood trees.

The firm exported more than US$5 million of illegal timber from DRC to China between June and December 2022, to its parent company, the Chinese conglomerate Wan Peng International via Zhangjiagang port.

 

Link to report here: https://www.globalwitness.org/en/press-releases/illegal-timber-democratic-republic-congo-china/

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September 13, 2023
New Global Witness report: Standing firm The Land and Environmental Defenders on the frontlines of the climate crisis

For the past 11 years, Global Witness has documented and denounced waves of threats, violence and killings of land and environmental defenders across the world, and 2022 marks the beginning of our second decade documenting lethal attacks. The world has changed dramatically since we started documenting these in 2012. But one thing that has not changed is the relentlessness of the killings.

Last year, at least 177 defenders lost their lives for protecting our planet, bringing the total number of killings to 1,910 since 2012. At least 1,390 of these killings took place between the adoption of the Paris Agreement on 12 December 2015 and 31 December 2022.

More...
August 8, 2023
‘Dependent on the forest’: The fight for indigenous peoples’ rights in the Congo Basin

The tropical forests of the Congo Basin are home to nearly 1 million indigenous people. After thousands of years of survival, deforestation is perhaps their biggest challenge yet. On International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples, FRANCE 24 takes a closer look at what’s being done to help.

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April 20, 2023
Illegal logging in Africa is a threat to security

Drawing from Center fro Africa Strategic Stiudies  recent report, which is based on  recent research and programmatic work at the Africa Center for Strategic Studies, we have analyzed three ways that illegal logging affects national security and what that means for current measures to counter it.

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April 11, 2023
Congo commission recommends terminating 30 forest concessions

A ministerial commission in the Democratic Republic of Congo has recommended terminating 30 forest concessions due to alleged irregularities.

 

The report recommended the termination of 30 out of 82 logged forest concessions. Of these, 22 were contracts for logging and eight were conservation contracts. Some were illegally awarded and required legal action, the report showed.

Another 36 contracts were given three months to regularize after the commission found certain taxes had not been paid.

More...
March 23, 2023
New CIFOR project in DRC to assist informal operators to become part of the formal sector

The ATIBT introduces a CIFOR project which seeks to assist informal operators to register with the government and thus become part of the formal sector.

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March 21, 2023
Rainforest Foundation UK and Global Witness, alongside other Congolese and International NGOs, warned of an imminent sell-off of timber, oil and carbon rights in the run-up to elections in the Democratic Republic of Congo

This letter to the Representatives and affiliates of the Inter-Donor Group on Environment and Climate (GIBEC) outlines concerns about a possible sell-off of forests, carbon rights and sub-soil resources, and the continued closing down of democratic space in the country.

 

Written by several NGOs, the letter outlines the rationale for their strong view that any industrial scale allocations at this time would be in violation of the logging moratorium4 and various laws pertaining to the award of any future logging or conservation concessions, among other legal requirements and CAFI milestones.

More...
March 21, 2023
Forestry permit audit in DR Congo poses threat to several industry tycoons

DRC Environment Minister Eve Bazaiba is aiming to take back illegal forestry licences in order to ban logging and to be able to sell carbon credits. Several operators who entered the sector under President Kabila risk losing their titles and, locally, her initiative is being opposed.

More...
March 21, 2023
An overview of the timber traceability systems in Congo Basin countries

This overview report assesses the region’s progress in developing timber traceability systems to reduce additional pressures from over-exploitation due to corruption, insufficient accountability, and illegal logging. It examples how Tanzania’s established timber traceability system may offer valuable lessons to guide Congo Basin countries in a stepwise process to overcome complex models, gain political buy-in and secure government ownership.

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November 18, 2022
Brazil, Indonesia, And The D.R.C. Work to Stop Deforestation

Brazil, Indonesia, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo have the largest area of rainforests in the world. On November 14th, at the G20 summit in Bali, the three countries agreed to create the Rainforest Protection Pact, which will work to stop deforestation and regrow forests. The countries plan to ask for funding to help with monitoring and preventing deforestation, although it is uncertain who will provide this funding.

More...
November 1, 2022
Sale of oil and gas permits casts shadow over world’s second-largest rainforest

As well as creating new logging concessions, the DRC government is selling permits for oil and gas exploration. As well as the peatlands in the north-west of the DRC, the drilling permits also cover Virunga national Park in the east of the country, home to mountain gorillas and the critically endangered lowland gorilla.

The auction has raised concerns about the future of a forest protection deal signed by the former British prime minister Boris Johnson, on behalf of the Central African Forest Initiative (Cafi), and the DRC president, Félix Tshisekedi, at Cop26.

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August 1, 2022
Illegal Logging And The Global North Threaten Congo’s Rainforest — Not Oil Drilling

The Democratic Republic of the Congo is impoverished: 73% of its nearly 100 million people live on less than $2 a day. But it has one asset that the Global North truly values — its rainforests, which absorb 4% of the world’s annual CO2 emissions and thus delay or prevent a climate breakdown.

The Congo wants to increase its oil development from 25,000 barrels a day to 1 million barrels — something that would improve the lives of its people and perhaps replace some Russian oil. But western nations and environmentalists are shocked at the idea, thinking it would destroy the country’s rainforests. But most such areas are theoretically protected by national law. The Congo is not just an emerging nation. It’s a sovereign nation that says selling oil would allow it to advance economically and socially.

The irony is that the more affluent countries talk out of both sides of their mouth. On the one hand, they promised $1.5 billion in 2021 to protect those rainforests. On the other, the United States, the European Union, and China are buying cheap timber from the Congo — and sometimes illegally.

More...
May 31, 2022
Chinese companies linked to illegal logging and mining in northern DRC

An investigation by EL PAÍS/Planeta Futuro finds evidence of illegal extraction of endangered tree species, precious minerals and strategic metals headed for global markets.

The investigation reveals that Chinese-owned companies use ‘complaisance’ permits to log and export CITES II-listed Afrormosia, which international demand pushed to extinction in other African countries, and flags irregularities in the latest export quota. European countries will consider stricter measures on imports from the DRC.

Military-protected concessionaires have been illegally mining gold, diamonds and rare metals with prospecting licenses for more than a year. They use mercury, a neurotoxic pollutant, in waters communities use to fish, bathe and drink.

Mongabay has partnered with EL PAÍS/Planeta Futuro to publish this investigation in English. This story was produced with the support of the Rainforest Journalism Investigations Network (RIN) of the Pulitzer Center.

More...
May 6, 2022
DRC logging contracts suspended as audit uncovers serious violations

The publication of an audit of forestry contracts in the Democratic Republic of Congo has exposed serious management failures. The audit cites serial breaches of the country’s forest code and more than a dozen violations of a 2002 moratorium on new concession.

More...
April 26, 2022
DRCongo Suspends 'Illegal' Forestry Concessions

The Democratic Republic of Congo’s government has suspended 12 forestry  contracts for violating a moratorium on new logging concessions in place since 2002, officials said Tuesday. President Felix Tshisekedi announced last October that complaints had been made about irregularities over the granting of forestry concessions and that he had ordered the suspension of all “doubtful” contracts.

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April 7, 2022
DR Congo audit exposes ‘lawless’ logging sector, implicating six former ministers

Six successive ministers in the Democratic Republic of Congo illegally allocated at least 18 logging concessions between them and repeatedly violated forest laws, a national audit has found. The report by the General Inspectorate of Finance (IGF), finalised in May 2021 but not published until last Friday, paints a scathing picture of failed forest governance from the top of the ministry down through the administration’s ranks. It describes “a situation of chaos” which benefits those involved in the sector and slams the “culpable laxity” of the environment ministry.

More...
April 6, 2022
Congo to Review All Logging Contracts After Damning Forest Audit

The Democratic Republic of Congo, home to the bulk of the world’s second-biggest rain forest, said it will review all forestry contracts days after a scathing government audit showed widespread tax avoidance and the illegal issue of logging permits.

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April 1, 2022
Congo Government Publishes Scathing Report on Logging Industry

The Democratic Republic of Congo published a scathing government audit report on the state of its forest and logging concessions, a first step in unlocking as much as $500 million in funding to support its climate-change commitments under the Central African Forest Initiative. The Inspector General report, which is dated May 2021, alleges that between 2014 and 2020 Congo’s environmental ministry illegally allocated logging permits and defied a moratorium on new concessions in place since 2002. Millions of dollars in fees, taxes, and royalties related to the permits have either not been paid or not made it to the public treasury, the report says.

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March 3, 2022
Congo's Forests, Irregularly in European Hands

A large European logging group has irregularly converted more than a dozen of its logging permits in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) into so-called conservation concessions. After extracting the most valuable tropical timber from 15 of them — covering an area the size of Belgium — the Portuguese-owned Norsudtimber group now plans to invest in projects to sell carbon credits in the former logging areas.

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February 2, 2022
Climate change: Deal to help end deforestation misses first deadline just months after it was signed at COP26

A major deal to help end deforestation has missed its first deadline just months after it was signed at COP26, Sky News can reveal. At the Glasgow climate summit, a group of donor countries promised $500m (£370m) to the DRC to protect the Congo Basin – which absorbs 4% of the world’s carbon dioxide but is suffering widespread forest loss – in a pact signed by Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

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December 9, 2021
Holding agriculture and logging at bay in the Congo peatlands

The peatlands of the Congo Basin are perhaps the most intact in the tropics, but threats from logging, agriculture and extractive industries could cause their rapid degradation, scientists say. In 2021, the government of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) announced that it was planning to end a moratorium on the issuance of logging concessions that had been in place for nearly two decades.

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November 2, 2021
Congo to Ban Log Exports to Reduce Pressure on its Forests

The Democratic Republic of Congo’s environment minister said on Thursday the country plans to ban all log exports. The country also plans to take measures to lessen threats to its tropical rainforest. The forest takes in carbon dioxide and produces oxygen. It is a major move to fight climate change. Congo is home to the majority of the world’s second-largest rainforest. The country is under pressure to improve how it administers the forest.

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October 24, 2021
DR Congo’s rethink of logging deals ahead of COP26 climate change summit could hit Chinese firms

The government is keen to emphasise its environmental credentials and fears illegal contracts have put US$1 billion international conservation funding at risk Chinese firms are not directly targeted, but the country is the biggest export market for rosewood – a resource targeted by illegal logging operations

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China: Tree-Planting at Home, Logging Abroad?

Over a six-month period last year, Congo King Baisheng Forestry Development exported $5 million – or about 30 million kilograms — in illegally logged hardwood to timber conglomerate Wan Peng through Zhangjigang Port.

 

When sent the evidence collected by Global Witness, Chinese Customs told the NGO that “as the logging has taken place in DRC and violated local laws, the DRC authority was responsible for enforcement.” The Chinese government could investigate evidence of Chinese companies or citizens being involved in illegal logging – if requested by the DRC government.

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Key Resources
Click here for a collection of Forest Trends publications related to IDAT Risk, including the full set of Timber Legality Risk Country Dashboards.
Methodology
Click here to download the Methodology which includes information on data sources, the methodology used to create risk indicators, and a glossary of key terms.
Data Tools

Click here to access the Global Illegal Logging and Associated Trade (ILAT) Risk assessment tool and to download the Forest Trends User Guide describing the functionality of the ILAT Risk Data Tool.

Click here to access the Cattle Data Tool.

Export Restrictions
Click here to download a database of forest policy export restrictions.