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Action Alert: World Bank Must Not Fund Rainforest Destruction in the Congo

Industrial logging of ancient primary forests is ecologically and socially indefensible

By, a project of EcoInternet - December 5, 2005

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Additional Background

The World Bank is moving forward with plans to subsidize ancient rainforest logging in the Democratic Republic of Congo's (DRC) mighty ancient rainforests. The world's second largest largely intact rainforest expanse is found in this Central African nation. Since 2002, the World Bank has taken a leading role in reforming DRC's forestry laws, starting the process of 'zoning' the forest into areas for timber felling and other uses, and encouraging foreign investment in the timber industry.

On Thursday December 8th, the Board of the World Bank will consider whether to approve more than $200 million in new funding for the government of DRC, some of it linked to 'development' of the country's rainforests. The World Bank is laying the basis for the destruction of Congo's rainforests, and it has breached many of its own internal safeguard policies in the process. Under the World Bank plan some 600,000 square kilometers of Congo's precious rainforest would eventually be handed over to logging companies.

Forests are being zoned into areas for timber felling against the wishes of many local communities. On the eve of this important decision by the Bank's Board, twelve organizations representing the various indigenous 'Pygmy' peoples of the Congo have submitted a formal complaint to the World Bank Inspection Panel, an official independent watchdog, stating the Bank has failed to take into account the impact that its plans would have on people depending on the forest for their survival.

The World Bank Board now has the chance to avert a major environmental and humanitarian disaster. They and Bank management must urgently be called upon to suspend any further funding for forestry and mining in DRC until there has been a thorough review of the Bank's activities in DRC's forests to date, and until the Inspection Panel has conducted an investigation. NO further funding for forestry in DRC should be provided until there has been a thorough investigation as to how Bank staff could act with such blatant disregard for both the environment and the rights of the millions of people living in Congo's forest.

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Bank subsidies for industrial logging will destroy the Congo's rainforests and will not alleviate poverty, nor can such logging be done in an environmentally benign manner  (link)

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