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Republic of Congo’s new forest law

The Republic of Congo has passed a new Forest Law to preserve its’ forests in an effective way and ensure greater sustainable management. This law was approved by Parliament in April, but details have just been made public.

The Congo Basin, 3.7 million square kilometres’ accounts for 70% of Africa’s forest cover and is the second largest tropical rainforest area in the world after the Amazon with a size of 6.9 million square kilometres. There are more than 600 tree species and 10,000 animal species in the Congo Rainforest (Mongabay). Described as the “planet’s second lung”, the contributions and importance of these forests for avoiding climate catastrophe and preserving ecological diversity should not be underestimated (ClientEarth).

“In order for Congo’s forest management to be sustainable into the future, the key improvements of the law need to be followed up by equally strong implementing regulations. In determining these next steps, active civil society involvement should be a priority”, Tanja Venisnik ClientEarth Law and Policy Advisor. Venisnik continues: “The Republic of Congo needs to promote transparency and inclusivity and ensure that communities – particularly indigenous ones, who depend on forests – are part of the legal and political process deciding forest management.”

ClientEarth’s legal experts and partners have contributed to the final draft of the law, with research and notable improvements to forest management and community presence.

Key changes to the code, include:

  • The involvement of local communities and indigenous people in forest governance
  • Management rights for forest-dependent communities
  • Civil society adjudicating forest-concession allocations
  • Benefit sharing in forest-concession contracts
  • Local communities, indigenous people, and civil society to examine forest management plans

This new forest law is one of the key outcomes of the ROC’s Voluntary Partnership Agreement (VPA), a bilateral timber-trade agreement between the European Union and ROC, aiming to ensure that all timber produced is legal. Strengthening community forestry rights and prioritising better and more sustainable forest management through this new Forest Code, could drastically help protect the country’s biodiversity. Key measures required in this new law can be facilitated through ROC VPA.

“Research proves that the best way to manage forests around the world is to have strong national laws governing them that recognise and secure rights of forest dependent communities”  Inès Mvoukani, ClientEarth Senior In-Country Associate.

The Republic of Congo is one of fifteen tropical countries currently working towards the EU’s Forest Law Enforcement Governance and Trade (FLEGT) Action Plan. Beginning negotiations in 2008, Congo signed and ratified a VPA with the EU in 2013. They are currently developing the systems needed to control, verify and license legal timber. More information on their VPA can be found on their APV FLEGT Congo website.

For more information, visit ttf.co.uk

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