The Congo Basin is not only known for being home to the second largest rainforest in the world. In recent years it has also become one of the biggest sites for illegal logging. However, since the EU and Indonesia imposed new regulations to prevent illegally logged timber from entering European trade, six African countries – the Republic of the Congo, Cameroon, the Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Ivory Coast and Gabon – have agreed to work together to help put a stop to the illegal logging and timber trade which is rife in the region.
The Brazzaville Declaration, which has been adopted by all six countries, is the first of its kind as private sector, civilian society and governments have come together to commit to the agreement, says senior forestry expert, Olman Serrano, of the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO). He says that “getting the private sector to commit to the agreement was key in solidifying the declaration.”
Although the declaration doesn’t have the same impact as the ruling between the EU and Indonesia, because it’s not in fact a legally binding document, it is hoped that it will provide industry professionals with a guideline which should be followed.
One of the biggest reasons for attempting to combat illegal logging is the fact that it costs governments billions of dollars each year throughout the world. Serrano also stated that the exact loss cannot be easily calculated : "More than 80% of the value added comes from forestry and logging. A lot of it is illegal because either it is coming from an informal sector (and hasn't been integrated in the whole value chain), or it comes from companies that irresponsibly promote illegal logging and illegal trade."
It’s not just the government losses which are a concern though. The impact of illegal logging is huge, not just for the timber industry, but also on the environment and wildlife that inhabits the rainforest. Species such as the Cross River gorilla are critically endangered with only 200-300 left in the wild. These primates exist only in the Congo Basin and bordering countries and are continually at threat because their habitat is being forcibly destroyed.