African countries agree to curb illegal timber trade in the Congo Basin

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The Congo Basin harbours the world's second largest tropical forest. It is also a key resource for stabilizing the global climate. (@FAO/Giulio Napolitano)

There's been a breakthrough for the sustainable and legal development of the timber industry.

Governments from Africa’s main timber producing countries, together with timber industry representatives and civil society organizations agreed to jointly combat illegal timber trade in the Congo Basin, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) said Wednesday.

At an international forum held in Congo’s capital Brazzaville 21-22 October, representatives of six African countries – the Republic of the Congo, Cameroon, the Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Côte d’Ivoire and Gabon – adopted the Brazzaville Declaration, marking an unprecedented commitment towards the sustainable and legal development of the wood industry in the region.

The Declaration was adopted jointly with timber industry representatives and civil society organizations. It engages partners to implement measures that improve timber tracking, transparency and forest governance.

“The Brazzaville Declaration could help slow down the pace of deforestation in the region,” said Olman Serrano, an FAO forestry officer, explaining that FAO estimates the net loss of forest in the Congo Basin at some 700 000 hectares per year from 2000-2010.

Covering an area of 300 million hectares, the Congo Basin harbours the world’s second largest tropical forest. It is also a major supplier of illegal timber, part of a global trade that cost governments some US $10 billion per year in lost tax revenues worldwide.

Executive Secretary of the Central African Forest Commission, Raymond Mbitikon, said “We must ensure that our forest resources contribute to the development of the countries in this region,” adding “This is what the Brazzaville Declaration sets out to achieve.”

Donn Bobb, United Nations.

Duration: 1’39″

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