Biodiversity conservation and sustainable forest management
Project title: Biodiversity conservation and sustainable forest management
Commissioned by: German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ)
Country: Democratic Republic of the Congo
Lead executing agency: Ministère de l'Environnement et Développement Durable
Overall term: 2016 to 2019
Covering an area of some 145 million hectares, around 10 per cent of the planet's tropical rainforest is to be found in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The forests form part of the Congo Basin rainforest, the second largest contiguous expanse of rainforest in the world. They boast an unparalleled variety of flora and fauna, including endangered species such as elephants, okapis, gorillas and bonobos. The forests also play a key role in stabilising the global climate and provide a livelihood for a significant proportion of the country's 80 million inhabitants.
The forest resources are under threat from progressive destruction and degradation, even in protected areas such as the Kahuzi-Biega and Lomami National Parks in eastern Congo. High population growth, poverty, and a lack of alternative sources of income are at the root of this trend. Half of the population lives below the poverty line. Deforestation is being driven in particular by felling for fuelwood and clearance for farmland, especially around the constantly expanding urban areas. Other threats to the forest and its biodiversity include poaching, illegal logging and the extraction of raw materials.
The relevant national authorities have so far been unable to curb illegal activities in protected areas and ensure that those areas are properly protected. For the most part, forest resources continue to be used in an unsustainable manner. The people living in the vicinity of national parks and owners of forest smallholdings often lack any legal and sustainable means of generating income.
Improvements in the sustainable management of natural resources and in the conservation of biodiversity in and around protected areas have brought increased value for the local population and private owners of forest smallholdings.
The project is strengthening the skills and capacities of the local population and the private owners of forest smallholdings, as well as those of the specialists and managers of the relevant ministries, service providers and decentralised state structures. In so doing, it is laying the foundation for the conservation of biodiversity and a legal, sustainable approach to managing natural resources. The project sets out to involve the people in environmentally sound, economically sustainable resource management, and to help develop a technically competent and sustainably financed administration which is equipped for and open to dialogue. This serves to boost acceptance of protected areas and reduce the pressures placed on them. The livelihoods of the local population are also improved as a result.
The project builds on the results of the predecessor project including, not least, the National Strategy for Biodiversity Conservation adopted in 2012, the National Programme for the Environment and Forest, Water and Biodiversity adopted in 2013, and initial reforestation measures undertaken in South Kivu province. The project works in three areas:
- Improving the framework for sustainable management of resources
The political, legal, financial and institutional frameworks in place in the forest and nature conservation sector are being improved, and the technical expertise required to protect global goods is being honed. The project is advising the country’s Ministry of the Environment, for instance in its overhaul of legislation on forest management and the management of protected areas. In addition, it is helping to establish university training courses designed to equip future specialists with the requisite qualifications. The project will also advise on the development of a national conservation fund to provide sustainable funding for protected areas.
- Introducing sustainable forest management
Reforestation measures are being promoted and mechanisms relating to the local use of forest resources and equitable distribution of revenue from sustainable forest management are being introduced. A consortium consisting of the consulting firms Deutsche Forstservice GmbH (DFS) and GFA Consulting Group has been tasked with implementation.
- Improving management of buffer zones
Sustainable management of buffer zones is being improved on the basis of local development and land-use planning.