“Blood wood” from Congo enters Portugal illegally, say environmentalists

A two-year investigation by Greenpeace Africa has implicated Portugal in the illicit trade of “blood wood” from the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). The wood that has been felled against forestry legislation – destroying habitats as well as species in danger of extinction – has been coming into Portugal via the port of Leixões, with the full-complicity of a number of Portuguese businesses, Quercus and Greenpeace have now revealed.

It is very possible that the businesses are offshoots of foreign concerns, but even so environmentalists are on the warpath.

This is not a new issue. Illegal logging from the African country has been an issue for years – it is simply that this latest report shows very little is being done to stop it.

Among species under threat are Simian monkeys and the pigmy-chimpanzee, or Bonobo (Pan paniscus) – believed to be the species closest to Man.

Also affected are local populations, whose lifestyles are seriously compromised by de-forestation.

According to the report, Portugal is the second main destination after France of this “blood wood” from the Congolese firm Cotrefore.

Talking to Lusa, Quercus’ Domingos Patacho explained: “Cotrefor’s forestry operations are indicative of the chaos that reigns in the logging sector of the DRC where the government is weak and corruption compromises the protection of tropical forests.”

But whether these words will have any effect on the illicit trade remains to be seen.

For now, environmentalists are simply asking the governments of importing nations to open “immediate investigations” into Portuguese companies that commercialise Cotrefor’s “products” or import wood from any other source in the DRC.

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