The DRC is at a cross-roads. The passing of the long-awaited community forest decree, ongoing land reform initiatives, land-use zoning/planning and the development of very large-scale REDD projects, are all likely to have an important impact on the world’s second largest rainforest and its inhabitants.
Over the next two months, the Rainforest Foundation UK will be publishing a short series of new briefings and research studies examining the underlying challenges for forest governance in DRC and the wider Congo Basin. The series will include: an in-depth study on why the land reform process in DRC is key to securing the rights of local and indigenous communities; a report looking into the prospects for community based forest management in the region; and news of how communities are starting to demonstrate the possibility of alternative approaches to forest management through innovations in geo-spatial technologies.
The first of these – a briefing on DRC’s new community forest decree, finds that:
- There are positive aspects of the text which could make community forests more accessible for local forest communities in DRC. However, this is in itself unlikely to deliver sustainable and equitable outcomes because of lack of institutional capacity.
- In the absence of strong administration, weaknesses in the law and implementation
measures could open the door to widespread forest destruction and other perverse
- A ‘lesson-learning’ and phased development of community forestry should be a priority, aimed at testing implementation of the new regulation, and building capacity to administer it properly.
- Community forests should be ‘future-proofed’ to be compatible with possible advances of more secure forms of community land rights, but should be progressively embedded in current land reform, zoning and REDD efforts.