Mapping For Rights is an award-winning, interactive community map project for the Congo Basin, which started in November 2011 and is ongoing.

By highlighting the presence of otherwise 'invisible' indigenous peoples and forest communities, this project bridges the gap between remote forest communities and central decision-makers, view the aim of eradicating the marginalisation of forest dwellers.


Customary tenure systems are very well defined and understood locally and are widespread across the Congo Basin but are generally poorly documented and receive only slight recognition in national law.

Despite growing evidence that securing these rights may be one of the best routes to protecting the forest and halting poverty, the political economy of the region has been dominated by a dual model of industrial logging and strict nature conservation, with more recent expansion in the mining and agro-business sectors.

These overlapping claims are leading to land and resource related conflict and the increasing marginalisation of forest dwellers.


To date, our mapping project has supported hundreds of forest communities across the Congo Basin to produce maps of their lands and resources covering over 5 million hectares. In 2016, MappingForRights was recognised by the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) as part of the UN Momentum for Change awards.

Some of our achievements include:

  • We have trained about 7,000 community mappers across Cameroon and DRC
  • We have mapped over 800 communities representing a total area of about 5 million hectares of forest
  • This unprecedented mapping initiative has also delivered much needed legal capacity in rural areas through the mentoring and placement of 6 community-based lawyers, and para-legal trainings have been provided to more than 300 people
  • The first interactive community map of its kind in Africa, if not the world, and largest repository of customary rights and resource use data in the Congo Basin
  • Our mapping data is now used in policy discourse to integrate into land-use planning processes, REDD+ initiatives processes and to track and mitigate impacts of potential palm oil expansion in the region
  • A large and growing membership base among key stakeholders to defend the rights of local and indigenous communities
  • Pioneering new geo-spatial technologies and mapping methodologies, bridging the gap between remote forest communities and central decision making processes



MappingForRights is a new approach to participatory (or ‘community’) mapping. It has been developed by RFUK on the back of 15 years’ experience of supporting indigenous and traditional communities of the Congo Basin rainforest in their efforts to fulfil their rights to land and livelihood. The approach explained in this reference guide is the result of collaboration with indigenous peoples, nongovernment organisations, (NGOs), community organisations, government agencies and specialised academic institutions.




900000 engaged


7000 trained


5049307 hectares mapped