Real Wealth Society

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Gorillas versus World Bank - VIDEO

Photographers Michael Nichols and Brent Stirton explain the significance
of the recent gorilla massacres in the Democratic Republic of Congo.



10.18.07 - Leído 35 veces. Enviar esta nota

Jeremy Lovell

A delegation of rainforest pygmies from Democratic Republic of Congo will fly to Washington this week to complain to the World Bank about its support for wholesale logging to help rebuild the war-ravaged economy

LONDON, UK; October 18, 2007.- The visit follows a leak of a report last week by the bank’s Inspection Panel that criticised it for backing a number of logging projects without adequate consideration of their sociological or environmental impact.

“We are going to Washington to tell the World Bank that they must not allow any expansion of the logging industry,” pygmy spokesman Adrian Sinafasi said in a statement released by the Rainforest Foundation, which is accompanying the delegation....

“Now the `Pygmies’ have the chance to meet face to face with the organisation that risked devastating their forests. Hopefully President Zoellick and his colleagues will listen to what we have to say and commit to working with them to protect Congo’s forests in the future.

Congo conflict menaces rare gorillas

Wednesday September 5 2007

Park rangers fleeing renewed conflict in eastern Congo have abandoned an endangered gorilla reserve.

Rebel troops led by General Laurent Nkunda's fighters seized three gorilla monitoring posts in the Virunga national park on Monday, and park rangers left the area.

Departing rangers told the Frankfurt Zoological Society's Robert Muir, who works with the park, government troops were fighting Gen Nkunda's troops in the heart of the sector where the endangered animals live.

"They have abandoned the gorilla sector because it is swamped with Nkunda's men and is a very difficult place to be right now," he said.

Mr Muir said rangers were still at posts in more distant areas.

Only some 700 mountain gorillas remain in the world, about 380 of them in the Virunga area, which crosses Congo, Rwanda and Uganda, according to conservationists.

About 100 of the animals are believed to live on the Congo side of the park.

Nine mountain gorillas have been killed in attacks this year in eastern Congo, according to the conservation group Wildlife Direct.

Park officials said more than 300 people working with the gorillas had been evacuated, including rangers and their families.

One park ranger was shot and killed today in a separate attack on a patrol post, officials said.

Violence broke out after Gen Nkunda pulled thousands of his men out of the national army last week, just months after they were integrated into it under the peace accords.

They then began attacking government troops, whom Gen Nkunda accused of collaborating with Hutu forces that fled into Congo after carrying out the 1994 genocide of Tutsis in Rwanda.

Gen Nkunda says he has gone back to war to protect the hundreds of thousands of Tutsis living in the eastern Kivu region who, he says, are still being targeted by Hutu rebels.

But the UN peacekeeping force in Congo has thrown its support behind the government's claim that Gen Nkunda is a "bandit", raising the prospect of another major conflict.

With 18,000 troops, the UN's contingent in Congo is the world's largest peacekeeping mission.

The UN has started airlifting thousands of government troops into Kivu, which has endured two foreign invasions and more than a decade of civil war.

About 4 million people have died in the conflicts, and the latest fighting has forced 10,000 people to flee into neighbouring Uganda since Monday.

The UN also said thousands of people had been on the move since the weekend within Congo's North Kivu province, which borders Rwanda and Uganda.

Congo army officials said at least 150 rebel fighters had been killed, including nearly 100 last week and 67 whose bodies were found abandoned on Monday after helicopter strikes.

The roots of the conflict lie in the genocide in Rwanda. The Hutu extremists who killed 800,000 Tutsis fled into what was then Zaire, from where they launched attacks on Rwanda's Tutsi rebel government.

Rwanda invaded twice to attack the Hutu insurgents but the conflict ended with the east of Congo controlled by Rwandan- and Ugandan-backed rebels.

Peace accords and elections last year offered hope, but resolution is likely only if Rwanda no longer feels Hutu rebels are threatening its border.

World Bank accused of razing Congo forests

· Internal report says mass logging threatens Pygmies
· Findings are embarrassing for British government

Thursday October 4 2007

The World Bank encouraged foreign companies to destructively log the world's second largest forest, endangering the lives of thousands of Congolese Pygmies, according to a report on an internal investigation by senior bank staff and outside experts. The report by the independent inspection panel, seen by the Guardian, also accuses the bank of misleading Congo's government about the value of its forests and of breaking its own rules.

Congo's rainforests are the second largest in the world after the Amazon, locking nearly 8% of the planet's carbon and having some of its richest biodiversity. Nearly 40 million people depend on the forests for medicines, shelter, timber and food.

The report into the bank's activities in Democratic Republic of Congo since 2002 follows complaints made two years ago by an alliance of 12 Pygmy groups. The groups claimed that the bank-backed system of awarding vast logging concessions to companies to exploit the forests was causing "irreversible harm".

It will be discussed at board level in the World Bank within weeks and may lead to a complete rethink of how forestry in the DRC is practised.

It is particularly embarrassing for the British government, which is a development partner of the bank and its third largest financial contributor. It encouraged the bank to intervene in the Congo forests with export-driven industrial logging and has earmarked £50m for further Congo basin forestry aid.

When the bank moved back into Congo in 2002, after years of war which cost up to 4 million lives, it said industrial forestry could contribute most strongly to the country's recovery. In its rush to reform the economy it devised new forestry laws, divided the county into zones and aimed to create a favourable climate for industrial logging.

But although the bank is legally committed to protecting the environment, and trying to alleviate poverty, the panel found that the policies it imposed on the Congo were having the opposite social and environmental effects:

· An area of 600,000 square kilometres (232,000 square miles) of forest was earmarked for logging companies.

· The bank failed to address critical social and environmental issues.

· It ignored between 250,000 and 600,000 Pygmies believed to be living in the Congolese forests, even though their presence was well known and documented.

· It put the Pygmies in serious potential harm.

Criticism is made of the forestry reforms that the bank imposed in return for loans of more than $450m. Initially, said the panel, "the bank provided [to the government] estimates of export revenue from logging concessions that turned out to be far too high. This encouraged a focus on reform of the forestry system at the expense of pursuing sustainable uses of forests, the potential for community forests and for conservation.

For the most part foreign companies, or local companies controlled by foreigners, have been the beneficiaries of this," the report said.

In a scathing analysis of the bank's economic reasoning, the panel said the bank had "distorted the real economic value of the country's forests" by looking solely at the tax and revenue that increased industrial logging might generate. "There seems to have been little action to support alternative uses of the forest resources," it said.

The panel travelled deep into the forest to take evidence from the Pygmy communities, who told it they were not consulted before the bank launched its wide-ranging forestry reforms.

One Pygmy leader told the panel: "We are being made poor in every aspect ... the [logging] company prevents us from going into the forests." Another said that the company had bought the land so that people could no longer live in the forests.

"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," said a third.

Research by non-government groups last year showed that 12 foreign-owned or foreign-controlled companies were encouraged by the bank to dominate the entire industry. Some had concessions of more than 5m hectares, and all included Pygmy communities in their holdings. The bank is reviewing the legality of many of these concessions.

Yesterday international groups that have worked with Congolese communities said they were shocked by the panel's findings.

"The Pygmies must be fully involved in developing any future plans for the forest, and the bank need to find ways of helping them uphold their rights, rather than helping logging companies to destroy them," said Simon Counsell, director of the Rainforest Foundation.

"The World Bank must change drastically its forest policies. Industrial logging is not contributing to poverty reduction, while its expansion undermines future financial benefits for environmental services," said Staphan van Praet, the Africa forest campaigner for Greenpeace International.


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