Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Congo Villages tricked into selling valuable forests for next to nothing

Well, as close to next to nothing as it gets. Village elders representing their villages had been promised sacks of grain and sugar for logging rights to their forests. In most cases one single tree could be worth as much as £4,000 (US$ 8,000), but what the villagers get in return for a whole forest of such valuable trees are a few sacks of grain or bags of sugar, possibly some free medical care and low paying menial jobs (clearing their own forests) if they are lucky. In many cases the companies having stolen these villages' natural resources have failed to even deliver on their cheap promises. But nevertheless they have of course kept the villages to their end of the deal and will be extracting the timber at huge costs to the global environment. Furthermore, many of these large logging companies now exploiting and clearing Congo's remaining pristine forests are European companies. What happened to ethical business and responsible logging as these companies are so proud to proclaim on their websites? We never hear about the truth behind how they get their logs and timber.

"If the trees go, then we will have nothing. We will be consigned to poverty forever. The forests are our only hope. If they go, we only become poorer", said one man who lives near Kisangani. Like most people in the area, he did not want to give his name for fear of intimidation from local authorities, who are known to be mired in corruption".

A note on the photo: The Odzala rainforest, part of the national park in central Democratic Republic of Congo. Elsewhere, huge tracts of unprotected forest have been snapped up by loggers for but a fraction of their true worth. Photograph: Michael Nichols/Getty, copyright "The Guardian"

Read the full article by "The Guardian" here: Vast forests with trees each worth £4,000 sold for a few bags of sugar

Also read these online stories:

Congo is not the only country in Africa facing these kind of threats to its biodiversity and natural resources. Rainforest Portal is right now having an action to help stop looging in the Mabira Rainforest of Uganda. If you feel strongly about these issues please visit this link and take action and petition the Ugandan government to stop logging of the Mabira Forest: Last Chance to Stop Great Ugandan Mabira Rainforest Give-Away

1 comment:

Marion, White Falls said...

Thanks Trond for highlighting this issue on your well informed blog. I have now signed the Mabira Forest petition and I really hope more people will do the same. Good luck and keep the wonderful postings coming.