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Country analysis > Democratic Republic of Congo Last update: 2020-11-27  

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Carving up the Congo


SARPN acknowledges Greenpeace as the source of this document:
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Executive Summary. For full text of report, see

Putting it all in perspective

Climate change caused by atmospheric buildup of greenhouse gases is the greatest threat the world faces today. Global emissions from tropical deforestation alone contribute up to 25% of total annual human-induced CO2 emissions to the atmosphere.

Predictions for future deforestation in Central Africa estimate that by 2050 forest clearance in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) will release a total of up to 34.4 billion tonnes of CO2, roughly equivalent to the UK’s CO2 emissions over the last sixty years. The DRC risks losing more than 40% of its forests, with transport infrastructure such as logging roads being one of the major drivers.

Logging roads open up the rainforest allowing access. With access comes commercial poaching: the rainforests are being emptied of large mammals to feed the trade in commercial bushmeat and ivory. And once the rainforest is opened up by logging roads, the area becomes vulnerable to clearance for agriculture. With road clearance come CO2 emissions from rainforest destruction. With CO2 emissions comes further climate instability.

Logging titles across Central Africa already cover some 50 million hectares of rainforest, an area the size of Spain. Logging companies are effectively road engineers, laying down a skeletal grid of arterial routes through intact rainforests. The swathes cleared through the forest for these logging roads can be wider than some of Europe’s major motorways.

Extensive logging roads and other logging infrastructure are a significant source of emissions through fragmenting and degrading rainforests. As global emissions figures only take account of deforestation, the emissions resulting from such fragmentation are currently overlooked.

More than 20 million hectares of logging titles are in the DRC, where due to war, the rainforests has largely escaped destruction until now. This rainforest is now at risk of being carved up into logging concessions for companies to gain access to a handful of valuable timber species.

The recent return of peace in the DRC and the new Government provide a unique opportunity for the international community to support genuine development in one of the world’s poorest countries and to take critical action to protect the global climate.

The World Bank’s support for development through extractive industries, including logging, is set to compromise the future of the DRC’s rainforests, its people, and the global climate.

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