This week we celebrated a major development in our real-time monitoring (RTM) project in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). On Monday 20th June, the DRC’s Forest Administration (Equateur Province) signed a memorandum of understanding with our local partner, Groupe Action pour Sauver l’Homme et son Environnement (GASHE). This agreement coincides with the launch of our RTM project in the DRC, which uses our unique ForestLink system, to combat illegal forest activities through independent community-based monitoring.
The current system of forest management in DRC has been hampered by low technical capacity, corruption, influence-peddling, cronyism, and governance bottlenecks. Indigenous and local communities will bring significant support to government departments and other stakeholders with the aim of more sustainable and equitable forest management.
Our project will provide technical support to local and indigenous communities to better involve them in the fight against illegal logging – something that deprives them of their legal rights and contributes to the degradation of their living environments and the depletion of natural resources.
As part of the project launch, a workshop was held to inform stakeholders in the forestry sector about RTM and to promote inclusive participation in the project’s implementation. The workshop brought together dozens of people from a range of backgrounds – including administrative authorities, forest community members and civil society organisations.
Many important issues were addressed over the course of the workshop. In particular, participants discussed the potential risks that may affect the implementation of the project – such as threats to community monitors by criminal groups – and proposed proactive measures to prevent or mitigate such risks. Despite these very real dangers, local community representatives remained steadfast in their determination to protect the rainforests that they call home.
“This cooperation between government, civil society and indigenous/local communities is the foundation of a more grassroots management of natural resources,” said Joseph Bolongo of GASHE. “The signing of this partnership with the Forest Administration not only allows for closer collaboration between different stakeholders, but also establishes a common vision of forest management for the future.”
Photo: Map of Equateur province, DRC | Wikipedia/NordNordWest
 Part of RFUK’s DfID-funded project, ’Community-Based Real Time Forest Monitoring to support FLEGT processes’.