Congo Basin Interactive Map
Mapping for Rights aims to provide easy access to accurate geographical information about the presence, land use and rights of indigenous peoples and other forest-dependent communities in the Congo Basin. It is intended to enable forest communities themselves to demonstrate their presence in the forest; decision-makers and the private sector to take account of and recognise this presence; and to assist the international community in designing programmes to secure those rights and ensure that forest communities are equitable beneficiaries of future developments. The key features of the website include:
- Interactive Maps. Built on a database of participatory maps, many of which the Rainforest Foundation itself has been involved in producing, this function enables forest communities to demonstrate their presence in the landscape, along with their customary uses of, and rights to, land. The maps enable all site users to see forest community occupation and forest usage in the context of other claims on the forest, such as logging activities and strictly protected areas. Multimedia content embedded in the maps allows for insights into the culture, livelihoods and concerns of the relevant communities;
- Online Interactive Database. Authorized users can access an interactive online community map database. The database serves as a repository for participatory mapping work that has been carried out by various organisations in the region. It enables the maps shown in the Interactive Maps section to be scrutinised in more detail, and used to inform planning and policy processes, decision making and to promote effective collaboration. If you would like to learn more about this initiative or to contribute to the database, please contact us at MappingForRights@rainforestuk.org;
- Resource Portal. Providing communities, NGOs, government agencies and others with the tools to facilitate participatory mapping. Also search for related legal, policy, technical and other resources by theme or by country.
Congo Basin Overview
Second in size only to the Amazon, the Congo Basin rainforest covers more than 180 million hectares, spreading across the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), most of the Republic of Congo (RoC), the southeast of Cameroon, southern Central African Republic (CAR), Gabon and Equatorial Guinea. This vast area is a vital regulator of regional climate, a carbon store of global significance and a massive reserve of biodiversity hosting over 10,000 species of plant, 1,000 species of bird and 400 species of mammal including three of the world's four species of great ape.
The Congo Basin is thought to have been inhabited by man for more than 50,000 years and today is home to more than 40 million rural people. This includes up to 500,000 indigenous hunter-gatherers commonly referred to as "Pygmies", most of which are still at least partially nomadic. The forest is a vital resource for these groups, providing food, water, shelter and medicine as well as being central to cultural identity and spiritual beliefs. The relationship between "Pygmy" communities and the dominant Bantu farmers with whom they co-exist is often deeply problematic. Considered the poorest of the poor, many "Pygmies" in Central Africa still do not have a birth certificate or national identity documents, are not represented in government and have little or no access to education, health services and other state services.
The Central African countries emerged from European colonial rule in the 1960s but still maintained colonial land laws which give the state overall ownership of the land. Indigenous and local communities have virtually no formal or legally-recognised control of the territories they traditionally occupy, or of the forest resources on which they depend, leaving them vulnerable to exploitation. Today much of the region has been handed out to foreign logging and mining companies, most of which are characterised by poor social and environmental practice. Although rates of outright deforestation in the Congo Basin region are lower than other regions, the processes leading to deforestation, such as the opening up of ‘frontier forests' by logging companies are well underway and very extensive; deforestation is very likely to accelerate greatly in the coming decade. This leaves local people homeless, drives animals and plants to extinction and releases around 12-14% of all man-made climate carbon dioxide emissions. Tropical deforestation is an issue that affects us all. However, as elsewhere in the world, attempts at strict environmental preservation, which now also cover large parts of the Congo Basin region, have often excluded local populations, resulting in their forced eviction from traditional lands.
RFUK’s application to become a member of the International Land Coalition (ILC) was approved at the ILC Assembly of Members on April 25, 2013 in Antigua, Guatemala. The ILC’s vision is to secure and equitable access to and control over land reduces poverty and contributes to identity, dignity and inclusion. It is composed of 152 members in over 50 countries, including civil society and farmers’ organisations, United Nations agencies, NGOs, and research institutes.Read more
RFUK Programme Briefings - 24/04/2013
A basic information leaflet about our community lawyer programme in the Congo Basin, providing an overview of our work and plans for the future. Also follow this link to find out more about our work with indigenous peoples in the region, the challenges they face and how we tackle them.Read more
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).Read more
The Central African Republic (CAR) ratified the International Labour Organisation's (ILO) Convention No. 169 on indigenous and tribal peoples in August 2010, becoming the first African country to adopt the Convention. This historic development for indigenous peoples in the country and on the continent places an obligation on the CAR Government to ensure that national laws and policies are coherent with the provisions of C169.Read more
RFUK is delighted to announce the launch of its new project in the Central African Republic and Gabon, aimed at enhancing legal capacity of forest communities to protect their rights to land and resources. The project will provide training and support to at least 10 law graduates and at least 15 community paralegals who will be based in forest communities on a permanent basis.Read more
The new MappingForRights website provides, for the first time, interactive maps which show the precise location of communities living in the Congo Basin rainforest and how and where they use forest resources.Read more