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Gorillas party in Goma

Check out this video made by the Virunga national park promoting the use of biofuel briquettes to replace charcoal. As a reminder, charcoal is a hugely profitable business for armed groups in the Kivus – every year around $20 million in charcoal is consumed in the Goma area alone, 80-90 per cent of which comes from the national park. Hardwoods from the park are much better for charcoal production (they burn longer), so timber “poachers” delve into the park to cut down trees. Because its illegal and because there’s so much money to be made, armed groups get involved in protection rackets. In our December 2008 report, we argued that the FDLR might be making $2 million a year in taxes off charcoal production around Goma alone.

The briquettes are made out of biomass, so (while they don’t burn quite as nicely) they would prevent the chopping down of the trees and the funding of armed groups.

The video was posted on the national park website .

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