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Congo to audit forest logging deals

By Bisola Adeyemo

The President of Democratic Republic of Congo, Félix Tshisekedi, on Monday ordered the environmental campaign group Greenpeace to audit all forestry concessions in the country and suspend some already seen as questionable or illegal.

The forest of the Congo basin is known as the lungs of Africa. And more than half of it lies within the Democratic Republic of Congo’s borders.

The world’s second largest rain forest retains vast amounts of carbon.

With the aim of helping prevent climate change some of the world’s largest carbon emitters are set to pay DR Congo hundreds of millions of dollars to protect the forest.

But due to corruption and poor governance there are fears it is vulnerable to expanding agriculture and illegal logging.

Following pressure from environmental groups, including Greenpeace, President Félix Tshisekedi has ordered an audit of some potentially corrupt concessions – including one for an area of more than 1.4 million hectares.

This decision has been widely welcomed. But in July, DR Congo’s environment minister announced plans to lift a ban on any new industrial logging concessions.

In a country plagued by corruption, this could pave the way for the destruction of vast areas of a forest that plays an important role in preventing climate change.

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