The rainforests of the Congo Basin are among the earth’s great carbon and biodiversity reserves. They are also believed to have been inhabited by humans for 50,000 years and today directly sustain the lives of an estimated 50 million people who are among the poorest people on the planet. As these forests come under increasing pressure from multiple industries and other interests, governments in the region have launched a series of national reforms aimed at modernising land use planning.
A new report by RFUK ‘Mapping the future: towards meaningful participation of forest peoples in land use planning in DRC and Cameroon’ finds that any land use planning that does not properly consider local communities will inevitably result in poor social, economic and environmental outcomes. Drawing on previous experiences of land use planning in the Congo Basin as well as best practices from elsewhere in the world, the report looks at barriers and opportunities to the inclusion of forest peoples. Among the report findings are that land use planning must be accompanied by a mapping and strengthening community land rights, building of local planning institutions and genuine multi-stakeholder processes.
Joe Eisen, RFUK Director, said ‘Communities in the Congo Basin have long been squeezed between industrial concessions and strict nature conservation interests. Land use planning holds the potential to right historical wrongs and to lay the path sustainable and equitable future for the region’s forests - if it is done in a way includes local people. This report provides policy makers and practitioners with actionable recommendations for how they can do this’.
To learn more about our participatory land use planning work in the Congo Basin, click here.