Central African Republic




Country size


Forest cover



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.

Our Impacts

  • We have supported local communities to map thousands of hectares of traditional lands and to improve their livelihoods through innovative agricultural improvement programmes.
  • In 2010, CAR became the first country in Africa to ratify ILO Convention 169 on the rights of indigenous peoples, partly thanks to RFUK’s advocacy. Since then, we have kept fighting to make its provisions a reality on the ground.

Projects & Campaigns

Community Forests

Our Community Forests project aims to establish a successful model of community-based forest management, one that focuses on the rights, needs and priorities of local communities, including those of marginalised groups such as indigenous peoples and women.

Mapping for Rights

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

Conservation & Human Rights

The traditional ‘fortress conservation’ approach of the west is premised on the dangerous yet persistent idea that local people need to be separated from nature to keep it “pristine” (sometimes for the benefit of foreign tourists). This does not only drive human rights violations but is also ineffective as it ignores and alienates the very people who have shaped and stewarded those landscapes for millennia.

Latest publications

thumbnail of Congo in the Crosshairs Report EN

Congo in the Crosshairs: Oil and Gas Expansion Threats to Climate, Forests, and Communities

Protected Areas and Indigenous Rights: A submission to the UN Special Rapporteur

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Roads to Ruin: The Emerging Impacts of Infrastructure Development in Congo Basin forests

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Securing Customary Rights is Key to Sustainable Community Forestry