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Democratic Republic of Congo: Forests

Volume 477: debated on Thursday 12 June 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what assessment he has made of the effects of industrial logging on poverty alleviation measures in the Democratic Republic of Congo. (210094)

The Department for International Development (DFID) has not made a formal assessment of the contribution that industrial logging makes to poverty alleviation in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). However, experience from other countries tells us that, while logging activities can contribute significant revenue, their contribution to poverty reduction tend to be marginal unless local communities are closely involved in decision making about the use of forests and the distribution of benefits from forest exploitation. This is why the UK Government have been sponsoring the Roundtable process to develop alternative models for forest management and financing in the DRC. These will be presented to Congolese and international partners during a conference in Kinshasa on 23 and 24 June. One of the proposals to be presented is the introduction of community-based forestry management in the DRC which puts local communities at the centre of the decision making process for forest use.

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what his policy is on extension of the moratorium on issuing new logging titles in the Democratic Republic of Congo until proper land-use planning is in place. (210095)

In 2007 the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) government, donor partners and a large part of DRC and international civil society adopted the Priority Agenda for the DRC's forests. The UK Government agree with all the parties to the Priority Agenda that forest land-use planning involving local people is essential for avoiding future conflicts in forest areas. We also agree that the moratorium should not be lifted until a national plan for granting new concessions has been developed involving the DRC government, NGOs, private companies and local people. The recent establishment of a national committee to agree a standard methodology for forest land-use zoning is an encouraging sign that the rights of forest-dependent people are being taken seriously. This methodology should be agreed by all relevant parties and applied successfully before new logging titles can be issued.

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what his policy is on a moratorium on all logging in the Democratic Republic of Congo. (210096)

The UK Government do not believe that a moratorium on all logging in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is either desirable or enforceable. The DRC is a desperately poor country emerging from civil war and it needs to be able to exploit its natural resources in a .sustainable way to drive reconstruction and the provision of basic services. Sustainable logging practices from countries like Mexico and Guatemala show that governments and communities can derive substantial benefits from logging activities. A blanket moratorium would also prevent the emergence of small-scale logging businesses which are an essential element of community-based forest management.