News Archive January 2009
cancels timber contracts
The Democratic Republic of Congo government has cancelled nearly 60% of timber
contracts in the world's second-largest tropical rainforest.
It follows a six-month review of 156 logging deals aimed at stamping out
corruption in the sector and enforcing legal and environmental standards.
At the end of the World Bank-backed process, government ministers found that
only 65 timber deals were viable.
New contracts will be issued for 90,000 sq km (35,000 square miles) of forest.
Environment Minister Jose Endundo told a news conference in the capital Kinshasa
that the other agreements would be cancelled.
"I will proceed within the next 48 hours to notify those applicants having
received an unfavourable recommendation from the inter-ministerial commission
through decrees cancelling their respective conventions," he was quoted as
saying by Reuters news agency.
"Upon notification of the cancellation decision, the operator must immediately
stop cutting timber."
Mr Endundo also said the government planned to respect a moratorium, introduced
during Congo's 1998-2003 war but widely ignored, on granting new logging deals.
The BBC's Thomas Fessy in Kinshasa says all the timber agreements were struck
during the conflict.
Amid rampant corruption, huge concessions were gifted to logging companies,
which paid almost no tax, he says.
Monday's decision should reduce the surface area exploited by timber firms by up
to half, according to our correspondent.
The Congo Basin is home to the second largest tropical forest in the world after
the Amazon, but campaigners say it is being eaten away by logging, mining and
agricultural land clearance.
Sarah Shoraka, of Greenpeace, says the new rules must be enforced to protect a
"Real economic development is what's needed," she told the BBC's Focus on Africa
"We've highlighted tax evasion, and there's often quite serious disputes between
local people and these logging companies.
"The logging companies promise hospitals and schools and they hardly ever
deliver these things on the ground."
© BBC MMIX
Corruption likely as crisis bites - Transparency
Wed Jan 14, 2009 7:00pm IST
By Kylie MacLellan
LONDON (Reuters) - Companies and their employees are more likely to resort to
poor business practices, cutting corners and corruption to try and survive the
global economic crisis, watchdog Transparency International warns.
Business leaders will focus less on issues of corporate responsibility and
integrity as their companies struggle to keep afloat, with worries such as job
cuts more pressing said Jermyn Brooks, Director of TI's private sector programme.
"For the business world, when the economic parameters get tight there is a much
stronger temptation to focus on survival ... regardless of what that means in
terms of perhaps cutting corners," Brooks told Reuters in a telephone interview.
"In conflict situations where there is either a civil disturbance or a breakdown
in government that nearly always goes hand in hand with increased levels of
corruption and so lesser breakdowns like an economic crisis by analogy will
probably involve a greater level of corruption," he said on Tuesday.......
Problem Solvable If Illegal Logging Stopped
Bernama, January 03, 2009 18:05 PM
BANDA ACEH, Jan 3 (Bernama) -- Wild elephant incursions into human settlements
in Aceh will continue if nothing is done to stop illegal logging in forest
areas, Antara news agency reported quoting a local nature conservation official
"The problem will persist unless illegal logging is stopped," Andi Basrul, head
of the Nanggroe Aceh Darussalam Natural Resources Conservation Agency (BKSDA),
said here Saturday.
During December 2008, wild elephants had invaded a number of villages in Aceh,
damaged a few houses and injured several people.
Basrul said his agency could not do much to stop the animals' incursions because
they were merely reacting to the damage being done to their habitat.....................
Indonesian ex-MP gets 8 yrs jail for forest bribe
Reuters India, Mon Jan 5, 2009 1:40pm IST
JAKARTA (Reuters) - A former Indonesian member of parliament was sentenced to
eight years in jail on Monday for taking bribes in exchange for agreeing to turn
over protected forests for other uses.
The corruption court's decision comes as Indonesia tries to tackle widespread
graft and protect the environment by clamping down on illegal logging.
Al Amin Nur Nasution was found guilty of receiving bribes in exchange for a
proposal to change the use of 7,300 hectares of protected forests in the Riau
islands, off Sumatra, the judges said.
"What the defendant has done hurts the image of parliament, betraying the
people's trust, and is against the government's efforts to eradicate
corruption," said presiding judge Edward Pattinasarani...............
EU plan to hit illegal logging said unclear, costly
Rainforestportal], January 19, 2009
EU farm ministers on Monday broadly welcomed plans to crack down on the
lucrative illegal timber trade by making exporters obtain licences to prove
their wood does not come from endangered rainforests.
But many worried about the probable rise in costs and red tape, particularly for
smaller timber operations, and several complained that the proposed new rules
were just too unclear.
The proposals, drafted by the EU's executive commission, would oblige importers
to check the legality of timber products, to prevent shipments of wood that had
been felled illegally. They would also apply to domestically produced timber.
EU countries are an important market for both legally and illegally harvested
timber - the largest importers of plywood and sawnwood from Africa, the second
largest from Asia, and a key market for Russia. Much of that wood is suspect..........
firms pleased with EU logging crackdown
Canwest News Service, January 21, 2009
The Canadian forest products industry is welcoming a European Union bid to crack
down on the illegal logging trade -- as long as the proposed rules aren't
written in a way that results in creating trade barriers.
EU parliamentarians are meeting Wednesday in Brussels to discuss the Green
Party's bid to toughen a new law aimed at banning import of wood cut by rogue
operators that typically operate in Africa, Asian countries like Indonesia and
Burma, as well as eastern Europe and Russia.
A Canadian forest industry official said his members support the original bill
announced in October, which would require firms to prove that exports into the
27 EU countries came from lumber cut legally.
"We're absolutely supportive" of the EU's efforts, said Andrew Casey,
vice-president of the Forest Products Association of Canada.
Casey said Canadian firms would benefit from the levelling of the playing field,
since illegally-cut lumber is cheaper and puts major Canadian firms at a
He said his only concern would be if the law is amended in a way that could
impose hidden trade protectionist measures that could negatively impact Canadian
Rampant deforestation in many poorer countries is contributing to global warming
as well as economic underdevelopment, according to the EU.
Greenpeace spokesman Sebastien Risso said the proposed new laws is in the
interest of developed countries like Canada, where the industry participates
widely in programs to certify wood as having been cut through sustainable
"Those who are investing in best practices, in sustainable practices, they are
being undermined by rogue companies involved in illegal logging activities," he
An estimated 19 per cent of lumber products shipped to Europe come from illegal
sources, which contributes to climate change, biodiversity loss, and damage to
the lives of indigenous populations, the EU said when the law was introduced in
"Forests are home to half of all known species. When forests disappear, so does
a vast array of plants and species, with disastrous and irreversible
consequences," EU Environment Commissioner Stavros Dimas said in a statement.
"These precious resources also play a vital role in regulating climate change."
The EU is advocating a global effort to put a stop to forest cover loss by 2030.
The U.S. is by far the Canadian industry's largest market, with 74 per cent of
forest products going south of the border. Asia is next, taking 15 per cent,
while the EU is the third-largest buyer with six per cent entering the EU,
according to 2007 statistics.
Copyright 2009, Canwest News Service