DRC’s organised crime and illegal timber

July 16, 2017

A new report shows that in Democratic Republic of Congo, illegal logging is booming, as criminal organisations tighten their grip on the highly profitable industry. Hence, it comes just in the nick of time that the central African country, is on the path to working on new anti logging laws.Illegal logging is an African scourge, and increasingly an organised criminal activity. It robs developing African countries of vital revenues while promoting corruption and murder like it has been doing in Democratic Republic of Congo for decades. Research shows it takes a terrible toll on the environment, promoting deforestation, loss of biodiversity and harmful carbon emissions at alarming rates.Moreover, the flood of illegal timber from the country makes it much harder for legitimate timber producers across the neighboring countries. The vast majority of those in Democratic Republic of Congo and Congo Republic have difficulty competing in domestic and international markets. That’s one reason that many major non governmental organization and activists are supporting the anti-illegal logging bill. Democratic Republic of Congo’s illegal logging thrives because it’s lucrative. The report estimates the economic value of illegal logging and wood processing to range from $1 billion to $5 billion annually. That’s a whopping figure constituting some 40% of Africa trade in wood products.Illegal logging plagues some of the Democratic Republic of Congo’s poorest peoples, many of whom live in tropical timber-producing regions. According to the data your blogger has, two-thirds of the Democratic Republic of Congo’s top tropical timber-producing regions are losing at least half of their timber to illegal loggers. In some regions, the figure approaches 70%.Many vendors from Democratic Republic of Congo export large quantities of timber or wood products into the global market. However, most of the regions in Democratic Republic of Congo all of which are suffering heavily from illegal logging, faces a bleak future.

Many African made wood and paper imports also come from Democratic Republic of Congo illegal timber. Activists and non governmental organizations have been pleading with timber-importing nations to help it combat illegal logging, which costs Democratic Republic of Congo billions of dollars annually in lost revenues.The new report shows just how devious illegal loggers are becoming. It details more than 20 different ways in which organised criminal gangs stiff governments of revenues and launder their ill-gotten gains.The variety of tactics used is shocking even by African standards. These tactics include falsifying logging permits and using bribery to obtain illegal logging permits, logging outside of timber concessions, illegally accessing government websites to forge transportation permits, and laundering illegal timber by mixing it in with legal timber supplies.Accustomed to dealing with criminal enterprises that transcend international borders, non governmental organizations with help of intentional bodies are bringing a new level of sophistication to the war on illegal logging in Democratic Republic of Congo. This is timely because most current efforts to fight illegal logging in the country aren’t designed to combat organised crime, corruption and money laundering.The report urges a multi-pronged approach to fight illegal loggers in Democratic Republic of Congo. A key element of this is anti-logging legislation that makes it harder for timber-consuming neighboring countries and their companies to import ill-gotten timber and wood products.The regional countries need to have active anti-illegal logging measures in place. And Democratic Republic of Congo looks set to join them with its proposed new laws. After years of rancorous political environment, one can only hope returns to Democratic Republic of Congo and the country join a growing league of timber exporting nations that is taking direct action against the illegal logging syndicates. It’s about time. With the help of activists, non governmental organizations, international bodies and the proposed laws, Democratic Republic of Congo will slowly become a no go zone for timber criminals unlike the case at the moment.

Contador Harrison