Gabon Takes Action Against Chinese Logging Company Following Damning Report

Photo via the Environmental Investigation Agency

The Gabon government has suspended the logging license at two sites run by large, privately-owned Chinese logging company that allegedly engaged in widespread illegal activities, according to a report by Agence France Presse.

The Dejia Group was singled out last month in a damning report by the U.S.-arm of the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) after a four-year investigation that revealed the company “continuously [broke] the most fundamental forest laws, turned timber trade regulations upside down and diverted millions in unpaid taxes from the governments of Gabon and the Republic of Congo.”

“EIA’s findings reveal that one of the most influential Chinese groups of affiliated timber companies in Africa, “Dejia Group,” has built its corporate empire on bribery, tax evasion, and forest crimes.” — Environmental Investigation Agency

Friday’s decision to strip a Dejia Group subsidiary, Societe de Sciage de Moanda (SSMO), of its logging license was a bold move considering how powerful the Group is in the Gabon timber sector. Dejia Group, according to the EIA report, manages more than 1.5 million hectares across Gabon and the Republic of Congo in the Congo Basin rain forest. The company has been active in the region for more than a decade and is reportedly one of the most influential timber groups in Africa, said EIA.

The government, for its part, tried to play down the suspensions of Dejia Group’s logging license at the two sites as just “as a precautionary measure.” But local environmental activists are encouraged by the move they say was prompted by the EIA report.

Marc Ona, head of a Gabonese environmental group called Brainforest, told AFP that without the EIA report, “the ministry perhaps would not have carried out the inquiry” into SSMO. “This means that, in the ministry, there isn’t a team to check that loggers are upholding the law,” he added.

EIA Senior Policy Advisor Lisa Handy was one of the authors of the report. She joins Eric and Cobus to talk about the investigation and what her organization recommends can be done to limit the actions of Dejia Group and other logging violators to halt the rapid, and illegal, deforestation of the Congo Basin that is fast becoming an ecological crisis with global implications.

Show Notes:

Join the Discussion:

What do you think of EIA’s findings and what do you think can be done to curtail illegal logging in places like the Congo Basin? Let us know what you think.

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