The Congo rainforests of central Africa are a natural wonder we can ill-afford to lose. After the Amazon, it is the second largest rainforest on Earth and a major biodiversity hotspot with species such as gorillas, chimpanzees and bonobos. Millions of people also depend on the rainforest for their survival and like all large forests, it is crucially important for regulating the local and global climate.
In the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), this natural wonder is under threat. International logging companies are causing social chaos and wreaking environmental havoc. The World Bank, by far the largest donor to the DRC, is failing to stop this destruction whilst the rainforest is being sold off under the illusion that it will alleviate poverty in one of the poorest countries on Earth.
Moreover, our investigations have shown that taxes paid by the logging companies, which are supposed to fund essential services like schools and hospitals for local communities, are not filtering back to local communities. Furthermore, the logging companies are entering into agreements directly with local people who, in return for timber worth hundreds of thousands of dollars, are receiving gifts of beer, salt and sugar which can be worth no more than $100.
Hilary Benn, Secretary of State at the Department for International Development, is the UK governor of the World Bank and is attending the spring meeting this weekend. Write to him now and ask him to use his influence to ensure there is a real future for the rainforest with proper safeguards put in place to protect it.