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Research Report

The domestic market for small-scale chainsaw milling in the Republic of Congo: Present situation, opportunities and challenges

Guillaume Lescuyer
Régis Is-maël Yembe-Yembe
Paolo Omar Cerutti
Copyright Date: Jan. 1, 2011
Pages: 44
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Table of Contents

  1. (pp. ix-x)

    Since early 2008, the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) has been researching the domestic timber sector in Cameroon, Gabon (Libreville), Republic of Congo (Brazzaville, Pointe-Noire), Democratic Republic of Congo (Kinshasa) and Central African Republic (Bangui) in collaboration with partners based in these countries. Funding to conduct research at the sub-regional level was obtained mainly from the Netherlands Directorate-General for International Cooperation (DGIS), the European Union and the French Development Agency.

    We decided to conduct parallel research on the domestic timber sector in several countries in the Congo Basin for a variety of reasons. First, there is very little information...

  2. (pp. 1-4)

    The Republic of Congo has about 18.5 million ha of dense forestland and about 8.4 million ha of other forest areas, composed of forest–savannah mosaics, forest–crop and deciduous forest mosaics (Bayol and Eba’a Atyi 2009). These forests are found in three main areas: the North Congo Massif and, in southern Congo, the Chaillu Massif and the Mayombe Massif (Mertens et al. 2007). These forests contribute substantially to the livelihoods of rural populations and, for the past century, have contributed to the country’s macroeconomic development through their timber operations. Timber production has grown since the 1990s with the arrival...

  3. (pp. 5-6)

    Small-scale chainsaw milling began in the Republic of Congo in the 1930s to provide wood to make sleepers for the Congo–Ocean railway; in the 1940s, it provided a source of energy for the Compagnie française du Haut et Bas Congo (Ondele-Kanga 2011). In 1974, in an attempt to increase the economic value of the small-scale timber industry, Congolese lawmakers identified three types of felling permits that could be issued to national operators: (1) special permit, designed to meet domestic demand; (2) the commercial timber permit, which authorised the felling of about 500 trees; and (3) the temporary logging permit,...

  4. (pp. 7-12)

    We carried out three types of survey to investigate the small-scale chainsaw milling sector in Brazzaville and Pointe-Noire: (1) interviews with sawyers who supply the urban markets in these two cities; (2) monitoring of deliveries from small-scale sawmills in Brazzaville; and (3) monitoring of sales in timber outlets in Pointe-Noire. Different approaches were used in the two cities because of differences in delivery methods. The methods for each survey type are described below.

    By monitoring the flows and sales of chainsaw timber in Pointe-Noire and Brazzaville, we obtained information on the main sources of supply. This information was cross-checked and...

  5. (pp. 13-22)

    During recent decades, many people have learned to use felling equipment, a trend facilitated by the introduction of chainsaws into rural areas, where most people use them to produce lumber for housing construction. Small-scale chainsaw milling in Congo is an old profession, and the most experienced sawyers still working now started their careers in the 1980s. The sector became increasingly successful in both cities in the 1990s, although not at the same pace (Figure 1). Many Congolese in Pointe-Noire migrated to the south of the country between 1997 and 1999 because of the civil war. Since 2005, the number of...

  6. (pp. 23-28)

    In the Republic of Congo, as in the other countries in the sub-region, little effort has been made to study the domestic chainsaw milling sector. The results in this report provide data with which to assess the socio-economic importance of this sector and suggest ways to make it more formal. However, revisions and amendments of regulations will have little effect unless accompanied by serious changes in governance, which will require the introduction of a system of incentives to change practices by state agents.

    Recent reports on Congolese forestry policy indicate that sustainable forest management will depend on the effective implementation...