OVERVIEW

Our Community Forests project aims to establish a successful model of community-based forest management, one that focuses on the rights, needs and priorities of local communities, including those of marginalised groups such as indigenous peoples and women.

The project’s overall aim is to alleviate poverty, improve rural livelihoods and reduce deforestation in the Congo Basin.

THE ISSUE

To date, the forest sector in Africa’s Congo Basin has strongly favoured large-scale land allocations over community-based forest management. However, over time this large-scale model has generated little to no substantive evidence of significant developmental or environmental benefit to local communities. There is a growing consensus that strengthening forest communities’ rights is an effective means of both protecting rainforests and fighting poverty.

In February 2016, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) passed community forest legislation in what is arguably the most ground-breaking legal development related to Congo Basin rainforests in recent years. The DRC is home to the second largest and most intact area of contiguous rainforest in the world, and now over 75 million hectares of forest (three times the size of the UK) could be available to local communities, who can manage their natural resources according to their own customs and needs.

WHAT WE’RE DOING

The project, which is funded by the UK Department for International Development (DfID), is testing community forestry in DRC, applying lessons learnt from previous approaches pioneered in forested regions both within Africa and globally.

The Community Forests project works at local, provincial and national levels. At the local level, we’re working directly with communities to set up pilot sites. At the provincial and national levels, we’re working to strengthen administrative capacity and to build consensus between government, civil society, donors and other relevant stakeholders through a gradual and controlled approach to community forestry in DRC.

Some of our achievements include:

  • Community forest pilot sites set up in Equateur province, which will be closely monitored and documented for lesson learning and sharing of experiences
  • Ongoing support for national and provincial Roundtables, which recently produced a landmark National Strategy for Community Forestry
  • Currently building the capacity of administrative staff at the national, provincial and territorial levels
  • Training and support to Congolese civil society organisations, developing their capacity to carry out research, conduct field investigations and provide valuable input to government on relevant policies

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ABOUT THIS PUBLICATION

This brochure provides information about a three-year project implemented by the Rainforest Foundation UK and its partners in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The project will implement an experimental approach to community-based natural resource management in order to secure forest-dwellers’ rights to land and natural resources and to ensure that forests in DRC are managed in a sustainable and equitable manner.

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