Securing Land and Forest Rights of Local Communities and Indigenous Peoples in the DRC

The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is the largest country in Sub-Saharan Africa, and one of the most resource-rich territories on Earth. Its borders encompass 60% of the world’s second largest tropical forest, the Congo Basin. The Basin has been inhabited by humans for tens of thousands of years, and is home to more than 150 distinct ethnic groups. It provides food, fresh water and shelter to more than 75 million people, and has hydroelectric potential to largely meet the power needs of the entire African continent. The Congolese forest is of global importance for its biodiversity, as well as for carbon sequestration in the fight against global heating, but faces mounting pressure from agriculture, logging, mining and population growth. Meanwhile communal land rights remain tenuous in a country suffering from widespread corruption, insecurity and weak governance.

Ongoing

From: 01/06/2020

To: 31/05/2022

Budget: $2,080,000

Proponents: 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)

Beneficiaries: 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.

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