Impact of industrial logging concession on deforestation and forest degradation in the DRC

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The Congo Basin is home to the second largest tropical humid forest in the world and an important participant in climate change mitigation. While the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) boasts the largest proportion of Congo basin forests, it is also the main contributor to forest loss. Industrial logging concession is a forest management model that is likely to expand in the DRC in the coming years as the Government recently announced the probable end of the 2002 moratorium on logging concessions. It is thus crucial to understand whether this model can further the DRC’s deforestation reduction efforts. The literature suggests that the effect of titling forestland on avoided deforestation and forest degradation is generally limited, unless environmental restrictions are enforced. The DRC’s 2002 forest code introduced a new logging concession model that includes requirements to submit and implement Forest Management Plans (FMP) and increase benefit-sharing with communities. Our paper evaluates the impact of this new model of concession contracts signed in 2011 and 2014 on deforestation and forest degradation. We use remotely sensed data series to estimate difference-in-difference models. We ensured baseline parallel trends in deforestation and similarity in baseline characteristics between control and treated units. We find no evidence that deforestation and forest degradation is significantly different between logging concessions and control areas, even for concessions that had their FMP accepted. Our study highlights the need for evaluating the impact of FMPs once they are fully implemented, the importance to improve degradation outcome variables and to conduct complementary studies analyzing impact pathways.

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