This week, the Rainforest Foundation UK (RFUK) launched a new participatory mapping and land use planning project in Maniema province, in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). The launch ceremony took place in the provincial capital, Kindu, and was attended by over 50 participants, including provincial government officials, traditional authorities and civil society representatives.
The project is funded by the German development agency (GIZ) and led in partnership with the DRC based consultancy firm GeoFirst SARL. It builds on RFUK’s award-winning MappingForRights initiative in the Congo Basin, which has already helped over 900 local communities map over seven million hectares of rainforest, as well as a 2016 land use planning pilot project with 10 villages in Balanga sector, Maniema.
Speaking at the launch ceremony, the provincial environment minister thanked GIZ and RFUK for their support and called for “local communities to take ownership of the project”.
Participatory mapping and land use planning is a process that empowers local people to manage natural resources in a sustainable and organised way. Its main benefit is in optimising natural resources by looking at land use in more holistic terms: taking into consideration physical, socio-economic, legal and cultural factors.
In recent years, there has been a wave of land reform initiatives and land use planning efforts in the Congo Basin, which are increasingly recognised as an effective means of managing natural resources and planning for local development.
RFUK’s work in Maniema aims to develop a community-driven model that will inform land use planning at the local and national level, serving as an example of a more sustainable and equitable approach to land management that could be applied more widely in DRC. The new project aims to reach roughly 100 villages in the province.
As RFUK’s Project Coordinator, Inès Ayari, explains: “A majority of the local and indigenous communities living in Maniema rely directly on the rainforest for their survival. A people-centred model for land use planning is vitally important for local livelihoods and development. It’s also a big opportunity to build a harmonised and sustainable approach to natural resource management in the region.”
Maniema is one of several regions where RFUK is supporting land use planning initiatives. Similar projects are now underway in western DRC and in Cameroon.
For more information on RFUK’s work on land use planning, click here.