Foto: Arsène Mpiana Monkwe / DER SPIEGEL

Rainforest Rebellion Combatting Mass Clear-Cutting in Congo

The rainforest of the Democratic Republic of Congo is one of the world’s most important ecosystems. But international timber firms are logging trees there illegally. Locals are starting to fight back, with some success.
By Heiner Hoffmann, Arsène Mpiana (Fotos) und Bernhard Riedmann (Grafik) in Ingende, Democratic Republic of Congo
Globale Gesellschaft
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The huge tree trunks are transported by truck to the port at Ingende.

The huge tree trunks are transported by truck to the port at Ingende.

Foto: Arsène Mpiana Monkwe / DER SPIEGEL
Tree trunks from the rainforest await transport to Kinshasa on the river bank.

Tree trunks from the rainforest await transport to Kinshasa on the river bank.

Foto: Arsène Mpiana Monkwe / DER SPIEGEL
Labelle Bokele (left) and Papy Bonkale (right) demonstrate the ForestLink system.

Labelle Bokele (left) and Papy Bonkale (right) demonstrate the ForestLink system.

Foto: Arsène Mpiana Monkwe / DER SPIEGEL
They report violations of the rules using this app.

They report violations of the rules using this app.

Foto: Arsène Mpiana Monkwe / DER SPIEGEL
A Boat Trip through the Rainforest along the Ruki River
The Ruki River is the area's lifeline. It provides a transport route, a water source, a place for washing and a fishing ground.

The Ruki River is the area's lifeline. It provides a transport route, a water source, a place for washing and a fishing ground.

Foto: Arsène Mpiana Monkwe / DER SPIEGEL
Officers found a jetty used for the removal of timber and heavy machinery that was located outside the area of the concession held by the Chinese company.

Officers found a jetty used for the removal of timber and heavy machinery that was located outside the area of the concession held by the Chinese company.

Foto: GASHE
A Chinese foreman ended up in court. In the end, he got acquitted, with the court referring to a fine it alleged had already been paid.

A Chinese foreman ended up in court. In the end, he got acquitted, with the court referring to a fine it alleged had already been paid.

Foto: GASHE
Joseph Bolongo educates residents of the forest about their rights.

Joseph Bolongo educates residents of the forest about their rights.

Foto: Arsène Mpiana Monkwe / DER SPIEGEL
Labelle Bokele measures a tree stump.

Labelle Bokele measures a tree stump.

Foto: Arsène Mpiana Monkwe / DER SPIEGEL
The forest observers use satellite technology to combat illegal logging.

The forest observers use satellite technology to combat illegal logging.

Foto: Arsène Mpiana Monkwe / DER SPIEGEL
Children should actually be learning here, but the funds for this school were embezzled.

Children should actually be learning here, but the funds for this school were embezzled.

Foto: Arsène Mpiana Monkwe / DER SPIEGEL
The cultivation of cassava is of central importance: The inhabitants eat the plant's leaves, the roots are pounded into flour, which is them used to make fufu, a dish similar to polenta.

The cultivation of cassava is of central importance: The inhabitants eat the plant's leaves, the roots are pounded into flour, which is them used to make fufu, a dish similar to polenta.

Foto: Arsène Mpiana Monkwe / DER SPIEGEL
Residents of Inganda celebrate the official recognition of their community forest.

Residents of Inganda celebrate the official recognition of their community forest.

Foto: Arsène Mpiana Monkwe / DER SPIEGEL

This piece is part of the Global Societies series. The project runs for three years and is funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

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