Industrial logging in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) could severely disturb rainfall patterns across sub-Saharan Africa and bring about more extreme weather, including intense droughts and flash floods, claims Greenpeace in a letter sent to the African Union.Greenpeace wrote the letter to the AU on Friday as the DRC plans to lift a 19-year moratorium on the industrial logging concessions.
In the letter, Greenpeace Africa has called for an urgent discussion of the consequences that plans made in Kinshasa would have for Congolese and African people in general.
The Congo Basin forest is estimated to contribute more than half of the annual precipitation in Sub-Saharan Africa, which Greenpeace said, is already facing a plethora of droughts and extreme heat waves.
DR Congo, a home to 60 percent of the world’s second largest rainforest, unveiled the plan to lift the moratorium on new logging concessions last July.
The plane came a year after its former Environment Minister Claude Nyamugabo awarded six concessions to Congolese firm Tradelink SARL, covering a total of 1.38 million hectares.
At his cabinet meeting last week, President of DRC Felix Tshisekedi called for an audit of DRC’s vast forest concessions and suspended all “questionable contracts” until the audit is concluded.
However, the decision to lift a 19-year moratorium on the industrial logging concessions is expected to go ahead as planned as it was already approved by Tshisekedi’s Cabinet in July.
Apart from lifting the moratorium, the central African country plans to create a regulator for its carbon market and reconcile data between agencies involved in the environmental sector.
The move would help Congo improve governance of the environment, said Eve Bazaiba, DRC’s environment minister.
“Deciding on whether to protect or destroy the rainforest may be within the DRC’s sovereignty, but the consequences of its actions will be felt everywhere from Nairobi to Dakar, from Pretoria to Abjua,” writes Steele on behalf of Greenpeace Africa.