Mapping for Rights


MappingForRights is an award-winning community mapping and land-use planning initiative that enables local communities to demonstrate their presence and use of the forest; governments and the private sector to take account of and recognise this presence; and to assist the international community in ensuring that programmes concerned with the Congo Basin’s forests provide equitable benefits.


The issue

The Congo Basin forests are home to tens of thousands of communities whose customary tenure systems extend across the region. Typically, these groups lack formal rights to areas they have inhabited and protected for generations and are largely excluded from decisions about the forests they depend on. This leaves many as “squatters” on their own lands, living in very poor conditions on the edge of logging concessions and strictly protected areas.

Underlying this marginalisation is often a lack of reliable and transparent information on their use, ownership and possession of forests as well as the threats facing them. MappingForRights aims to change this by putting otherwise 'invisible' forest communities on the map.

What we're doing

  • We enable communities to map their lands through low-cost, transferrable technologies and a participatory mapping methodology developed on the back of more than 20 years’ field experience. This data is then made available to authorized users through the online interactive Congo Basin Community Atlas where it can be analysed in the context of other forest uses.
  • The community maps have played a key role in promoting the rights of local communities in land reforms, in the management of protected areas and REDD+ programmes as well as the establishment of community forests.
  • With legal security over their lands, the programme also provides communities with a set of tools and approaches to develop and implement sustainable land-use plans for these areas.

our impacts


1,000 Communities mapped

The largest community mapping project in Africa covering more than nine million hectares – an area the size of Scotland. 


Award-winning Innovation

Awarded the 2016 UNFCCC Momentum for Change award for innovative, scalable and replicable examples of climate action.


Rights-based advocacy

Supported advocacy on major policy issues such as the DRC logging moratorium, land-use planning and community forests. 

Featured publications

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Mapping the Future: Towards Meaningful Participation of Forest Peoples in Land-use Planning in DRC and Cameroon

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Community-based Land-use Planning

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Participatory Mapping and Community Forests in the Democratic Republic of Congo

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Protected Areas and Community Rights: Using Local Maps to Support Sustainable Conservation in the Congo Basin