Africa > Central Africa > Congo Brazzaville > Breakthrough Agreement Will Combat Illegal Timber Trade in Congo

Congo Brazzaville: Breakthrough Agreement Will Combat Illegal Timber Trade in Congo

2013/10/27

Six African nations -- along with timber industry representatives -- have agreed to jointly combat the illegal trade of timber and logging in the Congo Basin.

The Republic of Congo, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ivory Coast and Gabon, adopted the Brazzaville Declaration at an international forum held in Congo's capital Brazzaville.

The move is hailed by the Food and Agriculture Organization, FAO, as an unprecedented commitment towards the sustainability and legal development of wood in the region. The FAO said the Congo Basin contains the world's second major tropical forest with an area covering over 300 million hectares.

It's as well a major supplier of illegal timber costing governments some ten-billion dollars per year in lost tax revenues worldwide.

FAO senior forestry expert Olman Serrano said the Congo declaration is incomparable because it is the initial document approaching out of a dialogue between governments, private sector, and civil society. He said getting the private sector to commit to the agreement was key in solidifying the declaration.

"Promoting policies and recommendations to processes without involving those that are actually responsible for forest management, and forest utilization, hasn't been perhaps very efficient. Presently that makes it completely incomparable-- that the private sector is involved and as well committed in the sense that they want to not only continue a positive trend [by] preparing management plans and combating illegal logging, but as well involving communities in the management of publicly owned forests in the Congo Basin," explained Serrano.

He said it is hard to know the exact loss of revenue.

"We see that in the Congo Basin, additional than 80% of the price added comes from forestry and logging. A lot of it is illegal because either it is coming from an informal sector (and hasn't been integrated in the whole price chain), or it comes from companies that irresponsibly promote illegal logging and illegal trade," said Serrano.

While the Brazzaville Declaration is not a legally binding instrument, Serrano pointed out that there's hope the agreement will be used as a guideline for next activities in the Congo Basin, and that it will be recognized by the international community as a standard to follow in the timber industry.

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