Last updated: 07 March 2020



Forestry and legality

Region Sub-Saharan Africa (2019) UNSD
FLEGT status VPA implementing (2019) FLEGT Facility
Forest area 22.3 million ha (2015) FAO
Deforestation rate 0.02 million ha/year (2010-2015) FAO
Planted area 0.071 million ha (2015) FAO
Tree cover loss 712 kha (2001-2018) Global Forest Watch
Tree cover loss (%) 2.7 % (2001-2018) Global Forest Watch
Tree cover gain 46.7 kha (2001-2012) Global Forest Watch
FSC certified area 1,251,050 ha (December 2019) FSC
PEFC certified area 0 ha (December 2019) PEFC
Double certified area (FSC & PEFC) 0 ha (Mid-2019) FSC & PEFC

VPA status of Congo

  • The Republic of Congo (RoC) has made significant steps towards completing implementation of the VPA in the last few years.

  • By 2018, 29 forest concessions out of 60, comprising 10.4 million ha, or 68% of forest allocated to commercial use, had implemented or were developing sustainable management plans as a part of VPA implementation.

  • In 2018, the EU and RoC released a 2018-22 implementation strategy, including VPA communication plans, and renewed focus by the Ministry of Forest Economy on ‘optimising forest revenue collection’ as part of reforms.

  • Stakeholder engagement was strengthened by the country’s Sustainable Forest Management Platform and a new Congo VPA Facebook page.

  • A meeting of the VPA Joint Implementing Committee (JIC) in November 2018 included a presentation on the status of the VPA’s legality verification framework. Of 29 indicators for monitoring implementation of the system, six are in progress, with work on the others at an early stage or not started. The FLEGT VPA unit urged allocation of more funds to the process.

  • The JIC November 2018 meeting also included reports on forest code revision and the computerised legality and traceability verification system, which was ready for deployment.

  • Ongoing problems with legality verification system (SVL) compliance due to regulatory capacity issues were reported in November 2018 by the Independent Auditor (contract managed by the French auditing company SOFRECO). Also highlighted was that many forest operations still lacked management plans. A new call to tender for the next independent audit contract will be published in 2019.

  • The JIC November 2018 meeting underlined that there is continuing support for the VPA process from government ministries, with representatives highlighting potential outcomes, including tax gains and EU market development for further processed wood products.

Forest resources in Congo

  • Total forest area was 22.3 million hectares in 2015 according to FAO. ITTO’s 2010 Status of Tropical Forest Management report put the extent of dense humid forests at 18.5 million hectares with an additional 8.4 million hectares of forest-cropland mosaic, forest-savanna mosaic and semi-deciduous miombo forests. There are also an estimated 1,670 hectares of mangroves.

  • According to FAO, forest area declined by 77,000 hectares (0.3%) between 2010 and 2015. The main causes of deforestation are slash and burn practices, fuelwood production, illegal logging, and urban development.

  • These causes, together with underlying factors like population growth, poverty, lack of alternative sources of energy, and the lack of common vision on land-use planning among stakeholders, continue to damage the forest resources.

  • According to ITTO, the smaller area of southern forests (about 4.4 million hectares) are rich in Aucoumea klaineana (okoumé)‚ Terminalia superba (limba), Pycnanthus angolensis (ilomba) and Entandrophragma utile (sipo). However, after more than 100 years of harvesting, these forests are very degraded and are now utilised primarily by smaller national operators.

  • The northern forests (16.5 million hectares) contain redwoods, especially sipo, Entandrophragma cylindricum (sapelli) and Millettia laurentii (wengé), as well as light hardwoods (e.g. Triplochiton scleroxylon – ayous).

  • Northern forests are less degraded and are allocated into larger industrial concessions, each averaging approximately 400,000 hectares that have already implemented or are preparing forest management plans.



Economic and industrial status

GDP 11.3 billion USD (2018) World Bank
Population 5.2 million (2018) World Bank
Income group Lower middle income (2019) World Bank
Ease of Doing Business (EDB) Rank 180 / 190 (2019) World Bank
Global Competitiveness Index Rank unavailable / 141 (2019) World Economic Forum
Liner Shipping Connectivity Index 25.6 (maximum value in 2004 = 100) (2019) World Bank

Timber industry competitiveness of Congo

  • The wood processing sector is comprised of large-scale forest enterprises linked to international markets. These companies operate alongside small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) that provide the semi-finished or finished products for the local market.

  • Low levels of national competitiveness have contributed to only limited investment in wood processing capacity in the country and heavy reliance on exports of primary wood products.

  • The country is either not rated at all or ranked very low on international competitiveness indices. In 2019, RoC was ranked 180th out of 190 countries on the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business index.

Trade Overview

Trade Overview


  • According to the ITTO Biennial Review, national log production was relatively stable at around 2.2 million m3 between 2014 and 2018. Log exports increased from 642,000 m3 in 2014 to a high of 941,000 m3 in 2017 but fell back to 895,000 m3 in 2018.

  • Sawnwood production was 400,000 m3 in 2018, higher than the previous five years when production fluctuated around 350,000 m3. According to ITTO, sawnwood exports remained quite flat, at around 170,000 m3 per year between 2015 and 2018.

  • There is only limited veneer and plywood capacity in the country with ITTO estimating production of 66,000 m3 and 30,000 m3 respectively in 2018, with negligible volumes exported.

Congo’s imports and exports of timber products in the latest 12 months (USD value from January 2019 to December 2019)

NOTE: Mirror data from STIX, drawing on trade data reported by Congo’s main trading partners, is used. Read more about the data in ‘Data Sources and Issues’.
Hover over the chart to see the value.

Imports (43.71 Million USD) Exports (387.2 Million USD)
Region Country Product Product Country Region

Congo’s production, imports, exports and domestic consumption of primary wood products in 2018

(data source: ITTO) Hover over the chart to see the value.

Trend in production, imports, exports and domestic consumption of primary wood products (logs, sawnwood, plywood, and veneer) in Congo

(data source: ITTO)