RFUK launches Mapping and Forest Governance programme in the Congo Basin

The Rainforest Foundation UK has just initiated a new, large scale programme in the Congo Basin, aiming to contribute to poverty reduction, sustainable management and improved governance of tropical rainforests in the Congo Basin in particular the Central African Republic (CAR) and in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). It will do this through the documentation of forest communities’ land tenure and governance systems, and through the promotion and implementation of forest communities’ rights to land and forest resources.

The four and a half programme will see the significant scaling up of our community mapping programme – in what will be one of the largest exercises of its kind ever undertaken in Africa. We aim to map up to five million hectares of forest communities’ traditional land and resource use in order to develop a crucial bank of information that can contribute to the securing of their rights to this land. Data on customary land use and monitoring of illegal forest activities will be collected by local communities through new smartphone technologies and uploaded directly to the MappingForRights database – enabling governments and other decision makers to make informed decisions about forest management and the rights of communities.

As well as supporting community mapping and monitoring of forest areas, the programme will also develop innovative forms of community based forest management, allowing communities to manage the forest for their own well-being and the protection of the environment, according to their chosen customs.

To support these efforts, the programme will also provide extensive legal support to forest communities to understand, analyse and use national laws to help defend and promote their rights through an extension of the hugely successful Community Legal Field Worker (CLFW) project in Cameroon, CAR and Gabon to rural areas of DRC. Young lawyers will provide on-going support and capacity building to local communities to protect their lands, to hold resource extraction companies to account and to engage in national policy and legal processes on forests or other issues of relevance to them.

For more information on the new programme, click here, or contact Joe Eisen, Policy, Advocacy and Communications Coordinator for the programme at joe@rainforestuk.org.

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