Republic of Congo finds new ways to combat illegal logging

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There have been numerous concerns over the high proportion of illegal logging and chopping of forests for timber in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) as well as the Congo basin.

Logging companies are however making an effort to make their practices within Congo’s forests legal, economically and environmentally sustainable.

“Unfortunately, the illegal logging activity is quite [high] in Africa. We’re talking about 60 or 70 per cent for example for Congo Brazzaville. Our company is already engaged to fight that kind of way of working and today we are certified. That could be a part of the solution,” Jean-Dominique Bescond from the Congolaise Industrielles Bois (CIB) told CNBC Africa.

The certification will also have to be accepted by those interested in timber from the Congo basin as a reassurance against it having been cut down illegally.

“That kind of certification is securing what they are buying. They know that product is sustainable. You’ve also got trust and respect of the legality, too,” Bescond explained.

CIB is the largest logging company in Congo, with 1.4 million hectares of land and forest concession to manage. It currently operates thee forest management concessions and one forest production.

“We’ve got 23 inhabitants in these concessions, so we need to share our activities, their rights and also our right to harvest and process this wood. Our company has been operating since 1968 and we developed good partnerships with the local population and also the government.”

Sustainability will be crucial for the business’s future, and the company will be working in the forest over a 30-year rotation period.

This means that once a certain amount of timber has been harvested, the company can return to the part only after 30 years, to allow for forest regrowth.

 “This [illegal logging] war is quite hard but from our perspective, we developed some different procedures to control it, to step up the work,” said Bescond.

“We consult the different stakeholders and we are guaranteeing our process and its transparency. We are audited each year by private companies to see if we’re respecting our standard and what sort of proof we have to explain and to show how we did it.”