Norway’s plans to save the rainforests in the Congo are coming under scrutiny in the Norwegian media.
In September 2015, Norway and a handful of European countries launched the Central African Forest Initiative. CAFI is aimed at reducing emissions from deforestation in Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Gabon, Cameroon, Equatorial Guinea, the Central African Republic and the Republic of Congo.
Last week saw the 14th meeting of the Carbon Fund, part of the World Bank’s Forest Carbon Partnership Facility. At the meeting Costa Rica and the Democratic Republic of Congo presented their REDD programme plans. The Carbon Fund approved both country’s REDD plans (called Emmissions Reduction Program Documents in the World Bank’s jargon).
In order for REDD projects to generate carbon credits, a “baseline scenario” has to be created. This is supposed to reflect what would have happened under business-as-usual, or what would have happened in the absence of the REDD project.
A new report by the Forest Peoples Programme finds that “Deforestation and forest degradation have increased in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) despite the government’s commitment to safeguard its forests”.
“Conservation efforts in the Congo Basin are mostly failing to protect forests and biodiversity, having serious negative impacts on local populations, and for these reasons are probably unsustainable.”
In mid-January 2016, the Democratic Republic of Congo submitted its revised Emission Reductions Programme Document (ER-PD) to the Carbon Fund of the World Bank’s Forest Carbon Partnership Facility. The Environmental Investigation Agency has produced a report of “preliminary comments” on the ER-PD.
The Democratic Republic of Congo has the second largest area of rainforest in the world. Since 2002, a moratorium on new logging licences has been in place. The government is now threatening to re-open its forests to new logging concessions.
The Mai Ndombe REDD project in the Democratic Republic of Congo covers about 300,000 hectares of forest. Project documents claim that without the project, the forest would be logged, and that communities in the area benefit from the project. A new article by Jutta Kill in the World Rainforest Movement Bulletin questions both of these claims.
On 25 September 2015, the government of the Democratic Republic of Congo passed a new Ministerial Order (Arrêté 050) that creates a new category of artisanal logging concessions. The law was passed without public consultation, but will have severe impacts on local communities and forests in the country.
“Unless major changes are made in FCPF planning, design and validation of emissions reduction programmes to ensure alignment with the FCPF Charter and international human rights standards, the FCPF Carbon Fund risks enabling seriously flawed REDD pilots that could generate negative impacts on indigenous peoples and local communities as the FCPF moves towards implementation of activities on the ground.”