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EIA Preview of Sierra Club ‘Illegal Logging in the Congo Basin’ Lecture Series

Illegal Logging in the Congo Basin Region: What do we know about it and how can the U.S. help?

Beginning September 14, EIA’s partner, the Sierra Club, will be hosting a series of presentations across the Pacific Northwest of the U.S. (see full list of locations here) to discuss illegal logging in the Congo Basin and how the United States can help to crackdown on the rampant illegal timber trade in the region. This discussion comes at an important time, as timber exports from the Congo Basin to the United States are significant, with a total value of approximately $15 million USD per year over the past decade.

EIA’s Congo Basin Campaigner, Eric Parfait Essomba, is a guest speaker of the series and will be discussing the impacts of illegal logging in the Congo Basin, including the methods of how timber is illegally logged, the politics involved, and the impacts on local communities and indigenous peoples.

The Congo Basin region harbors the second largest tropical forests on earth. These forests, which cover approximately 250 million hectares—more than California and Texas combined—play a critical role in regulating the global climate. The livelihoods of an estimated 60 million people depend on the forests of the Congo Basin, which are comprised of a unique biodiversity that can generate revenue for the nations and forest communities in the region through legal logging. However, ongoing rapacious illegal logging is squandering this value, as timber companies fail to pay required taxes and exploit the forest at a high and unregulated pace.

The widespread illegal timber trade that is prevailing in Central Africa causes tax and revenue loss that is otherwise essential to governments. It also severely deprives local communities of the benefits from the forest services upon which they heavily depend. At its worst, illegal logging has fueled devastating civil wars and conflicts within the region. Perpetuating these conflicts is the continued demand for and purchase of wood from the Congo Basin. Consumers unwittingly contribute to the destruction in the Congo Basin by purchasing wood sourced from the Congo Basin.

The United States can help to make a concrete difference, which is urgently needed, to curtail this detrimental illicit activity through increased and full enforcement of the Lacey Act. Originally passed in 1900 to prohibit illegal trade of animals, the Lacey Act was amended in 2008 to combat wildlife crime and illegal logging, making it a federal crime to import illegally sourced timber. Now that the United States has this tool in its arsenal, it can dramatically shift the practices of importers, manufacturers, and timber companies around the world, particularly in the Congo Basin.

The Sierra Club’s series ‘Illegal Logging in the Congo Basin’ begins Monday, September 14 in Portland, Oregon and concludes Thursday, September 17 in Tacoma, Washington. See a full list of the series and RSVP here.

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