Landmark community mapping exercise can provide solid basis for community forests, land-use planning and development interventions

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Communities have completed mapping of the Lukolela territory in Western DRC, marking the first time that customary tenure and resource use has been recorded over such an entire administrative division.

A total of 73 communities with a population of nearly 120,000 have mapped an area of 655,000 hectares. This detailed picture of customary land tenure arrangements comes at a time when there are real policy advances on the rights of local communities in DRC and as more powers in the region are devolved to localities.

In February, the DRC government signed legal Arrêté 025 setting out the management procedures for community forests, thereby establishing the implementing legal framework for community forests. This could potentially open up tens of millions of hectares for community-based forest management. Efforts are now underway through the community forest roundtable to develop a national strategy for implementation. It is envisaged that the mapping data collected via the MappingForRights programme can serve as an important foundation for the development of community forests.

Lessons learned from elsewhere show that to be successful, community forests should ideally be embedded in wider tenure reform and/or land-use planning processes. As more powers are devolved to decentralised forest administrations across the region the practice of mapping these wider areas shows how community land and resource rights can be recognised and integrated at scale. New community maps now available on MfR are being used to inform pilot participatory land-use planning processes in Nguti council, south-west Cameroon and in Maniema province, eastern DRC, with further such exercises in the pipeline.

Finally, the mapping of state services by local communities and mapping facilitators shows the chronic state of education, health, electricity and clean water provision in such territories – providing an informed basis for possible development interventions in these remote areas. Select the ‘schools’ and ‘health’ tabs on the community mapping menu and then click on the map icons for specific details.

Please log-in or register to MappingForRights and then click on the green button ‘Latest mapping data’ underneath the legend to gain a better understanding of community tenure systems and resource use in the Congo Basin.