Human rights and environmental charity, the Rainforest Foundation UK (RFUK), and its local partners in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) are formally handing over to the country’s government an online ‘database’, providing accurate maps and essential information on all community forests. RFUK’s local partners, APEM, CAGDFT, GASHE, PREPPYG and Réseau CREF have helped develop community forests in the provinces of Equateur and North Kivu.
The total area of officially designated community forests is now 1,127,000 hectares, and is expected to grow rapidly in the coming few years. The Congo Basin is the world’s second largest area of rainforest after the Amazon Basin, and ensuring local rights to protect such forests has been found to be the best way to conserve them.
RFUK and its local partner organisations are providing a range of important tools to help with the administration of the country’s rapidly growing number of community forests. These include detailed training manuals and guides for officials to further develop their knowledge and capacities in the future.
Simon Counsell, Executive Director of RFUK, said; “DRC has the potential to become home to the largest area of community-managed forests anywhere, and we are proud to have both helped some of the first such forests become established, as well as working in partnership with the government on tools to administer and develop them. ”
Theo Gata, Executive Director, of Congolese NGO CAGDFT, said “The new training modules for Congolese officials at the national, provincial and local level will enable them to further develop community forestry in the DRC.”
The development of these important tools has been funded by UK’s Department for International Development. However, there is an urgent need for the international community to provide further support, particularly to ensure that community forests can be effectively expanded throughout the country.
Mrs Fifi Likunde Mboyo, Chief of the Community Forest Division in DRC’s Ministry of the Environment, said: “We are appealing to donors to support development of staff responsible for community forests throughout the entire country”.