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DRC timber decision likely to impact EU

logsUnder a process backed by the World Bank, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has cancelled 91 of 156 timber contracts, stating they were wrongly granted during a moratorium enacted during the nation’s 1998 to 2003 war.

The government’s decision affects some 130,000 square kilometers of rainforest, nearly half the area being exploited by logging companies, according to the BBC News. The DRC is home to the world’s second-largest rainforest (only the Amazon is larger) and the greatest biodiversity of any country in Africa.

In announcing its decision, the nation’s government also said it would issue new timber contracts for about 90,000 square kilometers of rainforest.

The move has ramifications for the European Union, as almost all of the DRC’s timber exports — some €67 million worth as of  2005 — go to the EU market.

“In order to effectively control the country’s huge forestry resources, DRC needs to look at the example set by its near-neighbour Liberia, which last year introduced a supply chain tracking system that can track all exports back to source,” said Patrick Newton, CEO of Helveta, a UK-based firm that provides tracking software for the timber and food production sectors.

By enacting a tracking system similar to Liberia’s, the DRC will be better able to ensure  “the legality of timber products across the entire supply chain,” Newton said.

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