DRC - REDD 54 -1936-1288

FAQ : What is artisanal logging, and how much does it contribute to deforest DRC?


Artisanal logging is defined as a series of operations carried out, with or without permits, by individual small-scale millers whose main purpose is to supply sawnwood to the domestic market[1]. In addition, artisanal loggers also supply east African and Asian markets (see FAQ: Who buys Congolese wood?).  It is also worth noting that there has been an important misappropriation of artisanal logging permits by companies, especially in the Bandundu province[2].

This sector, which mainly operates in forests near access routes and provides jobs and income to its rural workers, offers inexpensive products to the urban consumer and thus is complementary to logging concessions. There has been a substantial increase in artisanal timber production over the last 15 years due to a growing demand for construction timber due to urban population growth and a relative increase of the purchasing power of certain urban classes.

This sector is largely informal because of legal loopholes and the dubious process for granting small-scale logging permits (Permis de Coupe Artisanale (PCA), especially in the Orientale province[3].

Artisanal forest exploitation has been described as “one of the most worrying causes of deforestation in DRC”. [4]

Over 90% of timber extracted in DRC comes from artisanal and informal logging. A CIFOR-CIRAD study in 2014 estimated the volume of artisanal logging to 3 million cubic meters (m3) of round wood. [5]

Although the footprint of logging concession is considered low (see FAQ: What is the contribution of logging concessions to deforestation and forest degradation ?), the artisanal sector can be potentially detrimental. It already harvests ten times as much as the industrial sector without taking into consideration the exponential population growth presented before (see FAQ: What contributes most to deforestation and forest degradation in DRC?). The map below as well as the historical evolution observable on the Global Forest Watch site clearly show the increase in forest clearings around main infrastructure and urban settlements where artisanal loggers operate, in combination with shifting cultivation and fuelwood extraction.


Figure 2 - Map


[1] Lescuyer 2014. The domestic market for small-scale chainsaw milling in the Democratic Republic of Congo CIFOR

[2] Greenpeace, 2012, 2013. Global Witness, 2012

[3] Lescuyer 2014. CIFOR

[4] Managing a valuable resource : policy notes on increasing the sustainability of the DRC’s forest production. World Bank, 2015.

[5] Lescuyer G, & al. 2014. The domestic market for small-scale chainsaw milling in the Democratic Rep of Congo, Occasional Document 110. CIFOR, Bogor