The country has suffered decades of tyranny followed by a civil war that has claimed the lives of many people. The chaos of the Mobutu decades and the failure to invest in infrastructure has meant that, up to now, relatively little of DRC’s forests have been exploited industrially (Fern, 2006).
The main logging areas are Mai-Ndombe, Equateur, Mongala and Tshopo, generally near the Congo River and its larger tributaries. In DRC, formal wood production has never exceeded 400,000 m3 of roundwood or logs during the last 10 years. Industrial lumber production in the DRC is subject to a quarterly reporting regime to the relevant state agencies.
In 2016, the four largest producers (COTREFOR-IFCO / MOTEMA / SODEFOR / FORABOLA) harvested 91% of the 206,000 m3 that were produced The project to support sustainable forest management (AGEDUFOR) has established a database covering the industrial forest sector production. According to the AGEDUFOR project (2019), industrial timber permits issued in 2018 to companies allowed for an estimated gross volume of 1,760,347 m3 , however actual production for the same year was 173,384 m3.
Industrial lumber production in the DRC is subject to a quarterly reporting regime to the relevant state agencies.
According to national legislation currently in effect in the DRC (2002 Forest Code), forest concessionaires have the obligation to transform 70% of the logs they harvest within a processing unit (sawmill, rotary cutting unit, etc.). The country has a very low timber processing capacity - there are only 15 sawmills around Kinshasa, Mai-Ndombe and Kisangani and just 1 plywood factory in Kinshasa.
According to Chatham House (2014), nearly 90% of logging in the DRC is illegal or informal, small-scale logging to supply domestic and regional markets. The volume of this harvesting is estimated to have doubled in the last six years, in response to a growing population and income levels.