Securing Land and Forest Rights of Local Communities and Indigenous Peoples in the DRC
Centre d’Appui à la Gestion Durable des Forêts Tropicales (CAGDFT)
Centre d’Accompagnement de la Population pour le Développement de Mai-Ndombe (CADEM)
Communauté Évangélique du Christ de l’Ubangi (CECU)
Centre pour la Promotion et l’Éducation des Communautés de Base (CEPECO)
Congolese Resources Institute (CRI)
10 forest communities in 5 provinces in DRC
This project has emerged as a response to growing concern for the future of Congo’s vast and globally vital forests, many of which currently receive little in the way of formal protection or conservation. Forest-dwelling communities are heavily reliant on their local habitat for survival, but growing pressure on these fragile ecosystems, coupled with the wider impacts of climate change, have seen an acceleration of potentially catastrophic environmental and climactic changes. Local people are increasingly faced with unpredictable seasons and extreme weather events, from floods to fires, which are fuelling increased food insecurity and deepening poverty amongst some of the most vulnerable communities on Earth. In this context, securing communal land rights becomes ever more important, ensuring a degree of control for communities over the management of their natural resources. Some threats to Congo’s forest are external, and include logging and clearance for agriculture, road building and mining concessions. Studies have also highlighted subsistence farming and charcoal production – linked to a rapidly expanding population – as exerting mounting pressure on forests. As such, capacity building at a community level to ensure long-term sustainable management of communally run forestlands is urgently required. Congo’s Indigenous Peoples are especially reliant on these forests for their survival. This project offers an important boost to their prospects, by working towards the protection and long-term management of the country’s rich natural heritage, as well as offering sustainable livelihoods for forest-dwelling communities.
To read a brief overview of the Democratic Republic of Congo, click here.
For a timeline of land and forest rights in the Democratic Republic of Congo, click here.
The project will secure 300,000 hectares of forest land for local communities and indigenous peoples in the DRC. In the DRC, the development of community forestry following a 2018 Ministerial Order has created an opportunity for local communities and indigenous peoples to obtain permanent and free title for up to 50,000 ha of their traditional lands. This is the first time since 1973 that the law has provided a means of recognising the right of local communities and indigenous peoples to control their forest lands. It is also timely, as pressures are building on forest, land and natural resources in the DRC. In addition to securing the traditional lands of Indigenous Peoples and local communities through Local Community Forest Concession titles (CFCL), and ensuring that local land management capacity is reinforced, the project will also share lessons learned at both a national and international level.
The project will be implemented in 6 provinces of the DRC (including the capital, Kinshasa) and will work directly with 10 communities in 5 provinces.
The overall goal of the project is to contribute to securing land and forest rights, reduce poverty and to promote sustainable forest management for Indigenous Peoples and local communities in the DRC.
The specific objectives of this project are:
- Ensure the security and recognition of land and forest rights of local communities and indigenous peoples, covering of 300,000 ha of forest.
- Influence national policy and law, to take into account the rights of local communities, Indigenous Peoples and women.
- Capacity building of project consortium members:
- Training, mentoring and technical support for project teams, in community forestry, project management, participatory approaches and gender;
- Training and coaching in financial management and use of financial software for finance officers and coordinators;
- An organisation development process for each member, to help them take ownership of the project’s achievements and plan for a sustainable future.
- Accompaniment of the 10 communities in the submission of an application file for a Local Community Forest Concession (CFCL) title.
- Support to the political-administrative authorities, (PAA), so that they can play their role in the process.
- Accompaniment of 10 communities in the planning of their management of the CFCL.
- Organisation of at least 6 Multi-Stakeholder Round Tables: 1 at the national level and 1 in each province of the project.
- Advocacy at the provincial and national level for the inclusion of Indigenous Peoples and local communities’ rights in provincial and national law and policy.
- Production of reports and briefings to share experiences and learning from the project.
- Targeted Indigenous Peoples and local communities shall obtain 300,000 ha of forests under community management in the Forest Concessions of Local Communities (CFCLs).
- The land and forest rights of Indigenous Peoples and local communities are identified and clarified in the CFCL titles.
- The members of 10 communities, the accompanying CSOs and the authorities responsible for allocating and monitoring CFCLs will have the technical, legal and institutional capacity to ensure the effective implementation of community forestry.
- The achievements of the community forestry process will be documented and capitalised on in the ongoing reforms.
- The legal texts and tools related to the implementation of community forestry will become public to all stakeholders involved as the lessons learned from the project´s experiences which will be shared and capitalised on through a multi-stakeholder consultation framework (round tables).
The project expects that communities, whose lives depend on forests, will be in a position to make decisions that take environmental sustainability into account. The project will further ensure that Indigenous Peoples have a greater voice in decision making, as well as reinforcing women’s voices in these processes. During consultations for designing this project, women showed a significant awareness of the threats to the forest, and this important knowledge will be incorporated into the project itself. Partners will prioritise environmental sustainability in their work with communities on effective management of their CFCLs.
Results of Phase 1
- 13 local community forest concessions (CFCLs) & 13 simple management plans
- Built inclusive government committees of CFCLs
- 196,069 ha secured of 300,000
- Increased awareness for community & consortium members provincial & local gov, FPIC, participatory mapping, inclusion, gender equality & conflict management.
- More equal power dynamics between Bantu
- Peaceful relations between different religious groups
- Solved boundary conflicts
- Strengthened voices of marginalised groups – women, youth, Indigenous People’s
- Sustain projects – reforestation & seed banks
- Multi actor round table, learning exchange
Théophile Gata Dikulukila
Centre d’Appui à la Gestion Durable des Forêts Tropicales (CAGDTF)