OVERVIEW

Our work in the Central African Republic (CAR) aims to establish successful models of community-based forest management, focusing in particular on the rights and needs of marginalised groups such as women and indigenous people.

The project’s overall aim is to alleviate poverty and contribute, through the development of equitable and sustainable community forestry, to improved governance and livelihoods for forest communities in CAR.

CAR Community Forests in the News

THE ISSUE

The Central African Republic (CAR) has about five million hectares of tropical forest in the south-west of the country, where virtually all the rainforest is allocated to industrial logging concessions and strictly protected areas, with some overlap between these different uses. Meanwhile, local forest dwellers, including the indigenous Bayaka people, have often been denied control of (and access to) their ancestral territory.

Community Forests have been integrated into the country’s 2008 Forest Code. In December 2015, the transitional head of State signed a decree allowing for community management of forests, but further legal and political reforms are necessary before local and indigenous communities in the south-west are legally able to claim collective ownership over the forest resources of their customary lands. This is a key factor in sustaining their livelihoods and designing their own self-reliant model of development.

WHAT WE’RE DOING

With the support of our donors (see below), we are supporting local and indigenous communities to understand and navigate the country’s forestry laws, so that they are able to submit applications to be granted with community forests and property rights over the resources of their customary forests.

With a platform of local civil society organisations, RFUK has been documenting lessons learnt from pilot community forests and is facilitating a national dialogue to revise the legal framework and develop innovative approaches to community forestry in south-western CAR, in a challenging context where most forested land has been previously allocated for commercial logging and other purposes.

To ensure the sustainability of the community forestry process nationally, we are strengthening the capacities of the country’s forest administration, as well as local civil society, so that they can fulfil their important role in supporting communities who wish to secure their lands.

We are also supporting civil society to engage in land reform, to ensure that indigenous and community rights are respected and in line with international standards, such as Convention 169 of the International Labour Organisation (ILO) on “indigenous and tribal peoples” (1989), ratified by CAR in 2010.

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ABOUT THIS PUBLICATION

A process to test the legal framework on community forests is currently underway in CAR. For more than two years, local and indigenous communities have been supported by civil society in applying for the allocation of the pilot community forests. The process developed by those involved has been documented to provide a basis for a review of the legal framework. This report presents the context, challenges, opportunities and lessons learnt during the pilot experiences.

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