Forest management - Trends
Forestry policy recently developed in the DRC is designed to intensify and harmonize the mounting (and apparently conflicting) demands for forest resources, by reconciling conservation with development. The major guidelines underpinning DRC¿s national forestry policy in the 2000s are the integration of the forest sector in rural development planning, combining conservation with sustainable development, developing the wood and wood products industries, and enlisting public participation by involving rural people in forest activities and decision-making.
The current trend is therefore to encourage industries with processing units by guaranteeing a steady supply of raw materials. Industries lacking processing capacity are gradually slated to disappear from the scene. The Government is leaning more and more towards participatory forest management to involve all stakeholders in the exploitation of forest resources.
Promotion of sustainable forest management
The DRC is a signatory to several conventions and agreements concerning environmental management. In compliance with the recommendations of the first Earth Summit held in Rio in 1992, an interministerial coordinating and follow-up committee for the Rio decisions was formed with the mandate of drawing up Congo¿s white paper on biodiversity and implementing the National Environmental Action Plan (NEAP). Unfortunately, due to chronic political instability over the last ten years, this committee has been unable to perform as planned. The National Forest Action Plan was formulated in accordance with TFAP (1990), NEAP (1996), and the National Strategy and Biodiversity Action Plan (SNPA-BD of June 1999). The first national report on progress in implementation of the Convention on Biodiversity was published in 2000.
Concerning the Convention to Combat Desertification (CCD), a national action plan is also under consideration. A national forum on forest policy with the major theme ¿harmonious and sustainable forest development¿ was also held in May 2000. It is expected to lead to the formulation and adoption of a national forestry policy attuned to the present-day context.
Incentive measures such as new legislation and forest allocation procedures, plus lower export taxes and simplified procedures to promote exports, have been put in place to develop the timber industry. Incentive measures have also been adopted to attract fresh investments that will modernize the forest industries and heighten competitiveness on world markets.
For the fuelwood sector, charcoal-making techniques have been developed and extended and improved, fuel-efficient cookers distributed to reduce fuelwood consumption.
At the regional level, there are a number of ongoing programmes such as REIMP, the Regional Environment Information Management Programme, with the National Centre for Environmental Information (CNIE), launched in June 1998, working to achieve REIMP¿s objectives. CARPE, the Central African Regional Programme for Environment, is working in all Congo Basin countries to counter deforestation and loss of biodiversity. The DRC component of ECOFAC was set up to enhance management in Salonga National Park and its buffer zones. But, like the implementation of TFAP in Zaire, this project has been unable to take off in the ongoing climate of political instability.