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Specified risks related to 21 sub-categories
Full Timber Legally Risk Assessment ENList of Applicable Legislation EN-FRRisk Mitigation Guide ENDocument Guide EN-FRAnalyse Risque Légalité FRGuide Actions Atténuation FR
Congolese forests are composed of thick tropical forests, open forests and savanna woodlands. According to the FAO (2020), the DRC has around 126 million hectares of forest coverage, which makes up around 54% of the country’s surface area. Almost all of these forests are primary or naturally regenerated forests. Planted forests only account for 58,000 hectares. Around 8% of this forest area is allocated to logging operations (FERN, 2006, ATIBT, 2019). Most (70%) of the industrial forest concessions are located in the 3 Provinces of Tshopo, Equator and Maï-Ndombe (ATIBT, 2019). The Congo’s forest land has remained relatively unharmed, due to years of political instability following the collapse of Mobutu's regime (FERN, 2006). Its deforestation rate is around 0.8% per year over the last 10 years, representing roughly 1 million hectares deforested per year (FAO, 2020).
All forest and land is owned by the state. (Art. 9 of the Constitution, Art. 53 of Law n°73-021) and the right to use the land and forest can only be granted by way of a land concession. Granting a land concession to a private person also grants forest management and exploitation rights (Art. 8 of the Forest Code).
The forest is divided into three categories:
Aside from logging operations, the main causes of loss of forest cover are slash-and-burn agriculture, bush fires, the production of charcoal for local and regional markets, and livestock rearing. The DRC also presents some of Africa’s highest levels of biodiversity, and is notably home to around 10,500 plant species (including 750 forest species), as well as around 500 mammals, 1,000 birds and 350 reptiles (FAO, 2020). A significant proportion of those are endemic species (for instance the okapi, the Congolese peafowl and the bonobo). The DRC’s forests also provide the resources for numerous semi-nomadic indigenous populations, who maintain strong cultural links with this land (Fern, 2005).
According to Chatham house (2014), nearly 90% of logging in DRC is small-scale, illegal, or informal, intended to supply the domestic market and regional markets. According to the Forest Legality Initiative (2013), the informal market is estimated to be three to six times the volume of the formal sector, which was 300 000m3 per year between 2007 and 2009.
Illegal logging is a significant problem, but the government’s response to illegal logging and related trade has been poor (Chatham house, 2013).
The adoption of the most recent Forest Code in 2002 and its implementing provisions uncovered several issues and legal loopholes that the DRC is struggling to respond to. An important process has been converting old forest titles into titles provided for by the new Forest Code in 2002. The procedures put in place for this process were poorly respected by the administrations, both in terms of the technical and administrative requirements and the time frames stipulated. The widespread occurrence of semi-industrial logging operations in small areas by legal persons was repeatedly opposed by civil society and international NGOs before it was regularised in 2016. The acknowledgement of customary land rights and/or the implementation of agreements between the logging operators and the local communities (through social clauses) is also poorly respected. The country also faces challenges in terms of ensuring the traceability of the wood and streamlining administrative procedures in order to carry out checks and ensure the implementation of the regulations, notably in terms of respecting processing quotas and payment of taxes.
Several legality risks are present in DRC timber supply chains. The risks are wide-ranging and appear across all categories of law. If you are sourcing timber from DRC, you should take care to ensure the extensive risks identified are not present in your supply chains, or chains or have been sufficiently mitigated. VIEW LESS
In October 2010, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and the EU began negotiating a Voluntary Partnership Agreement (VPA) to promote trade in legal timber products and improve forest governance.
After an informal suspension of the process in 2013, the FLEGT Technical Commission has made progress on core elements of the VPA since November 2016.
FSC certified area:
0 ha, updated April 1, 2023