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Deforestation in the Congo River basin, DR of Congo


The Congo has always been involved in several conflicts, caused by a rush to hoard the countless resources of national forests and minerals. The industrial exploitation of wood has not brought any benefit to the 40 million people living in this country. Deforestation, pollution and violence threaten the rights of tens of millions inhabitants, causing serious social conflicts and threatening the extraordinary biodiversity of the country. Conflicts with timber companies, even some of them with FSC certification has led to human rights abuses, arbitrary arrests, imprisonment and the deaths of protestors with villagers blockading timber trucks. State Forest Reserves in Bas Congo were also harvested by MALBA and SOFORMA in a 50/50 split with the government to finance from 1998 onwards the war.

Greenpeace, along with other organizations, does campaign and pursue charges against logging companies abusing FSC certification and the certifiers who grant it to them without properly assessing the company’s fulfilled requirements. As it was the case for instance in 2011 against the company SODEFOR and its certifier Rainforest Alliance SmartWood. The scandals about the devastation of the Congolese forest are numerous and involve powerful actors. FSC Watch reveals for example that in March 2015, the World Bank promised US$ 1 million to support the plantation of cash crops by the Congolaise Industrielle des Bois (CIB), a subsidiary of the OLAM agricultural trader. But it has to be remembered that four years earlier, in 2011, CIB announced the start of agricultural activities on its forests’ concessions, forests which have now disappeared. The switch from logging to non-forest use is prohibited by Congolese law.

Basic Data

NameDeforestation in the Congo River basin, DR of Congo
CountryCongo, Dem. Rep.
Accuracy of LocationLOW country/state level

Source of Conflict

Type of Conflict (1st level)Biomass and Land Conflicts (Forests, Agriculture, Fisheries and Livestock Management)
Type of Conflict (2nd level)Deforestation
Logging and non timber extraction
Specific CommoditiesCellulose

Project Details and Actors

Project DetailsBy 2050 the expansion of the Congo timber industry is estimated to destroy about 40 percent of the forests through deforestation.
Type of PopulationRural
Start Date1990
Company Names or State EnterprisesDANZER - SIFORCO from Switzerland
SODEFOR from Portugal
Industrie de Transformation de Bois (ITB) from Congo, Dem. Rep.
SOFORMA from Portugal
Compagnie Forestiere De Tshela (CFT Congo Ltd.)
Vasto Legno from Italy -
Alpi from Italy
Dassi from Italy
Piarottoloegno from Italy
Itallegno from Italy
Congolaise Industrielle des Bois, subsidiary of OLAM (CIB or OLAM) from Singapore
Relevant government actorsGovernment of the Democratic Republic of the Congo
International and Financial InstitutionsThe World Bank (WB) from United States of America
Forest Stewardship Council (FSC)
Environmental justice organisations and other supportersGreenpeace, WWF, MRGI - United Kingdom, FSC-watch

The Conflict and the Mobilization

Intensity of Conflict (at highest level)MEDIUM (street protests, visible mobilization)
When did the mobilization beginIn REACTION to the implementation (during construction or operation)
Groups MobilizingIndigenous groups or traditional communities
International ejos
Local ejos
Social movements
Forms of MobilizationBlockades
Involvement of national and international NGOs
Media based activism/alternative media
Public campaigns
Street protest/marches
Arguments for the rights of mother nature
Campaigns to remove FSC certification


Environmental ImpactsVisible: Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Noise pollution, Deforestation and loss of vegetation cover, Air pollution, Food insecurity (crop damage), Global warming, Soil contamination, Soil erosion, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality, Groundwater pollution or depletion
Health ImpactsVisible: Malnutrition, Deaths
Socio-economic ImpactsVisible: Increase in Corruption/Co-optation of different actors, Loss of livelihood, Loss of traditional knowledge/practices/cultures, Violations of human rights, Loss of landscape/sense of place, Displacement, Increase in violence and crime, Lack of work security, labour absenteeism, firings, unemployment, Specific impacts on women, Land dispossession


Project StatusIn operation
Pathways for conflict outcome / responseThe timber exploitation continues its activity without any problem.
Development of AlternativesThe stop of the logging activity and the restoration of the area.
Do you consider this as a success?No
Why? Explain briefly.The multinational companies continue logging the Congo forests.

Sources and Materials


Elikia. Storie dal Congo. Frazzetta, Andrea; Massarenti, Joshua. Ed. TERRE DI MEZZO. 2007.

Lalba della Democrazia Viaggio nel Congo che cambia. Meandri, Eugenio. Ed. EMI. 2007.

Africa - forests under threat. Carrere, Ricardo; Fonseca, Hersilia. Ed. World Rainforest Movement. 2002.

Congo-Ruanda Burundi-Le parole per conoscere.Touadi, Jean-Lonard. Ed. Editori Riuniti. 2004.

Lindustria del legno in Africa: impatti ambientali, sociali e econominici. Autori Vari. Ed. Greenpeace. 2001.

Il saccheggio delle foreste in Congo. Autori Vari. Ed. Greenpeace. 2007.


Il taglio illegale distrugge le foreste del Congo, Greenpeace Italia, 23/02/2007

FSC’S flagship African logger, CIB-OLAM, needs world Bak subsidy - to start farming in its concessions, FSC Wathc, 9/12/2015

FSC Complaints Panel says organisation 'needs to control certifiers better': SmartWood "undermines" the FSC, FSC Watch, 26/03/2012

Cutting to the truth on Congo Basin deforestation, D., Van Oijen, 25/07/2013

CIB - FSC certified forests in Congo to be felled for palm oil plantations?, FSC Watch, 28/06/2011

Media Links

Deforestazione in Congo, Greenpeace davanti Bankitalia

Other Documents

The Congo rainforest Copy rights: Thomas Einberger / Argum / Greenpeace

Smoke from a clearing fire in the Congo basin Copy rights: Thomas Einberger / Argum / Greenpeace

Meta Information

ContributorLucie Greyl
Last update18/01/2016



The Congo rainforest

Copy rights: Thomas Einberger / Argum / Greenpeace

Smoke from a clearing fire in the Congo basin

Copy rights: Thomas Einberger / Argum / Greenpeace