HABITAT LOSS/DEGRADATION DUE TO LOGGING, AGRICULTURE AND CHARCOAL
Most of the logging companies operating in the Congo Basin in the 1990’ies to 2000nds were EU-based (Forest Monitor 2001). They included the Denmark-based DLH Group (www.dlh-nord- isk.com, www.dlh-group.com), the France-based groups Rougier (www.rougier.fr, Groupe Rougier 1999), Thanry (French Embas- sy in Cameroon 2002) and Inter-wood (www.interwood-france. com), Italy-based Alpi, and Germany-based Danzer (www.ve- neermill.com/intro), Feldmeyer (IUCN 1997) and Wonnemann (Marchés Tropicaux 2000). Each owns a variety of local and subsidiary companies operating in the Congo Basin countries (Forest Monitor 2001; UNSC, 2001). In addition to these wood and pulp producers are companies like the France-based Bolloré, specializing in transportation of timber from tropical regions (Bolloré 1998, www.saga.fr). In 1998, 61% of Cameroonian logs were exported to the EU (Tropical Timbers, 1999).
Fighting illegal exploitation in the Virunga National park
Virunga National Park, Africa’s oldest nature reserve and a UNESCO World heritage site, covers over 7,800sq km, includ- ing both forest, hills and lowland slopes of forest, in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo. It is home to a larger num- ber of endangered species, and near 200 or one-third of the Worlds remaining mountain gorillas.
The gorillas are threatened by poachers and habitat loss, mainly by the burning of charcoal or makala. Both the Mai- Mai used the park in the early 2000’s, then the FDLR that still remain, and also the CDNP in late 2007, who also attacked the park headquarters and several posts. The militias have been heavily involved in the cutting and burning of charcoal, using also prisoners or near slaves for the work.
In August and September 2009, rangers attacked and de- stroyed some 1000 kilns for the burning of charcoal, but mili- tias have been estimated to make over 28 million USD a year by illegal selling of charcoal.
n the past decade more than 200 rangers have been killed in the five parks on the DRC border, out of a ranger force of ca. 2000 men. This means that while the rangers have less than 10% of the numbers of MONUC, and the parks receive only a fraction of the funds available to MONUC. The rangers, have, however, by interfering with the financing of the militias, in- curred greater losses of uniformed staff than the MONUC.
This is mainly due to the fact that the rangers conduct long- range patrolling on the ground in the jungle and slopes, direct- ly interfering, disrupting and challenging the militias in their illegal exploitation of resources.
Figure 6: China is the largest consumer of logs from the DRC, buying near 38% of the roundwood produced in official statistics in 2008 (Ministère des Eaux, Forêts, Chasses et Pêches du DRC, 2009). However, the official numbers only reflect approximately half of what is being cut, the remaining illegally, often transported across borders to neighboring countries..