Over 30 forest community representatives from Inongo and Lukoléla Territories presented their participatory maps at a two-day multi-stakeholder workshop about the future management of the Tumba-Ledima Reserve in the Democratic Republic of Congo, (DRC) in March. The workshop took place in the city of Lukoléla.
The maps, produced under the Rainforest Foundation UK’s, (RFUK’s) Mapping and Forest Governance Programme, show how these communities occupy and use forest lands according to their customs. The forum also gave them the opportunity to express the challenges they face in relation to the reserve, which overlaps with their traditional lands.
The Tumba-Ledima Reserve, covering an area of 741,100 hectares (or 1,831,297 acres) was created in 2006 by the DRC Government in order to protect the region’s biodiversity, and the communities have expressed their willingness to be actively involved in the conservation of their environment.
Jean Alliance Ngasitebi, the administrator of the Lukoléla Territory, said: “The workshop to present the maps enabled stakeholders like local communities, local authorities and the Reserve’s authorities to look for common ground on which to build the future of this protected area, for the mutual benefit of all.”
Prior to the workshop, the RFUK and its partners in the DRC; Réseau Ressources Naturelles (RRN), Groupe d’action pour sauver l’homme et son environment, (GASHE), and Centre d’accompagnement de la population pour le développement de Mai-Ndombe, (CADEM), organised a two-day training course for forest community representatives to assist them with the preparation of their workshop presentations. This training plays a key part in building capacity within these communities and empowers them to participate in such debates.
RFUK Mapping Coordinator, Georges Thierry Handja, said that the workshop was a unique occasion for community representatives to share their views on how they would like their forest to be managed.
“Participatory maps developed by forest communities with the support of RFUK are very useful tools which enhance communities’ participation in forest management debates,” he said.
The workshop was organised following eight months of participatory mapping work in the area.
As a result of the workshop, a set of recommendations were issued and included the following:
- To hold consultations with communities relating to the demarcation and status of the reserve; and
- To elaborate upon a management plan for the reserve that is driven by a participatory process and that respects the rights of forest communities.