Contributing Monkie G Living Staff Monkies
Published on September 8, 2009
A report from the Internal Investigations Panel for World Bank found that the organization had been encouraging destructive logging of the world’s second largest forest. According to The Nation, “the Congo’s forests act as the planet’s second lung, counterpart to the rapidly dwindling Amazon.”
The Congo forest locks around 8% of the world’s carbon. Close to 40 million people depend on the Congo forest for medicine, food and shelter. Controlling the affect of rainfall over the North Atlantic, the Congo forest plays a huge part in the biodiversity of our planet. Over the past few years, with encouragement from the World Bank, timber firms have taken around one quarter of the forest, which is equal in size to the state of California.
In 2002, the World Bank entered the Democratic Republic of Congo with the thoughts of aiding in the country’s economic recovery after years of war. New forestry laws were created. However, the Internal Investigations Panel found that the new policies set in place by the bank were having an opposite effect – not just socially, but economically.
According to the panel’s findings, the Congolese Pygmies were placed in potential harm. Between 250,000 and 600,000 pygmies were living in the forest. (The companies allegedly knew they were there and chose to ignore them.) The panel also found that the bank was ignoring and failing to address critical environmental and social issues.
According to one Pygmy leader, “Roads are going ever deeper into the forests, opening it up. We are increasingly deprived of our foods and drugs. We have never seen anything from the bank except promises.” Research by several non-government groups showed that at least 12 foreign-owned companies were encouraged by the World Bank to dominate the industry.
An effort is in the works to stop the continued destruction of the Congo Forest. Filip Verbelen, a forest campaigner for Greenpeace, states that “Logging is not helping the DRC’s economy, and it is destroying the environment. The damage has to be contained now before it is too late.”
This destruction effects all of the regions wildlife and people, especially the forest dwelling Pygmies. There has even been open conflict over the resources of the tropical rainforest. It is a conflict that the Pygmy are losing. Historically the Pygmy have always been viewed as inferior by both colonial authorities and the village dwelling Bantu tribes.
The wildlife which could find cover in the dense tropical forest, is now exposed to hunters as the result of the logging roads. The tradition of hunting for the tribe has been replaced by hunting for the market. As the populations living in the cities earn higher incomes, they drive up the demand for wildlife meats, which are called bushmeat. The effect has been disastrous for all wildlife, especially the great apes.