Forest Use and Logging in the Congo Basin

Forests are an important source of local livelihoods and economy for the 75 million forest dependent people throughout the Congo Basin. Forests provide fuelwood, bushmeat, medicines, fruits, and other food and household products.

The vast majority of wood harvested in the Congo basin is used for wood fuel, either directly or processed as charcoal. Use of wood fuel has peaked in most of the developing world, but continues to rise in sub-saharan Africa, making these forests particularly vulnerable. As Congo Basin countries develop and urbanize, fuel wood collection will continue to be a threat for forests of the region, especially around urban areas.

In much of the Congo basin, industrial logging concessions are granted for the extraction of valuable timber. Logging contributes to government revenues and rural employment, but unsustainable practices can causes forest degradation and detriment to rural livelihoods. Moreover, unsustainable logging opens forests to poaching, illegal wildlife trade, and sometimes further forest clearing. Many logging operations are working with forest certification programs such as the FSC to ensure sustainable practices.

Illegal logging in the Congo Basin Forest is difficult to estimate but suspected to be widespread. In the basin, as in the rest of the world, illegal logging causes forest degradation, impacts rural communities, and can decrease tax revenues. For internationally traded timber, legality verification mechanisms such as the Lacey Act for the United States and the Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade program of the EU attempt to improve forest governance and prevent illegal logging.