Lying on the northern edge of the Congo Basin, the Central African Republic (CAR) contains vastly different ecosystems, with dry savannah landscapes in the centre and north, and lush tropical forests in the south-west that contain abundant wildlife including forest elephants, bongos, lowland gorillas and chimpanzees.
These forests are also inhabited by the indigenous Bayaka, who to a large extent depend on hunting and gathering for their subsistence, alongside other forest-dependent Bantu communities. There is endemic discrimination against indigenous peoples, sometimes resulting in forced labour.
The state has allocated the vast majority of the forest to timber operations and protected areas, disregarding the land rights of local communities and hampering their access to the resources on which they depend. Prevailing insecurity and political instability in vast areas of the country has hampered efforts to improve forest governance.