Manage the forest you depend on

To create new farmland, people still resort to the slash-and-burn technique. (c) Harald van der Hoek

DR Congo – A forest is extremely valuable to humans. In return, they must manage it well if they want to benefit from it. Our partners in DR Congo share their vision and plans on forest management.

Forests are valuable ecosystems that provide multiple services to humans. They are a source of food and raw materials, they regulate climate and water quality, and they provide humans with recreation and a healthy living environment. Sustainable management of forests then is simply the duty of every community, as human activities endanger the forests.

Sustainable management can be done in several ways, community forestry is one of them. Community forestry is based on the simple assumption that communities depend on forests for their livelihood and thus are more concerned with their sustainable management. After all, they know the value of forests better than anyone else.

The state is aware of its limitations in sustainable forest management, so it is all the more important to give responsibility to local communities. The DR Congo has been addressing this since 2014, and so far 114 community forests have already been allocated and several initiatives launched. Community forestry is seen in the DR Congo as a tool for development as well as a means of sustainable forest management.

In Tshopo province – where Join For Water has been operating since 2022 – the three communities of Barumbi-Tshopo, Bapondi and Bafwamogo already have their CFCL title. CFCL stands for Concessions Forestières des Communautés Locales, it means that a local community gets a piece of forest under concession. The community manages the forest it depends on for its livelihoods.

Together with BOS+, Tropenbos International and Tropenbos RD Congo, Join For Water is assisting these three communities to further develop their concession. This is done with funding from the Belgian government. Through the same program, Join For Water and partners are also accompanying three other communities seeking such a concession: Bafwabula, Bafwadodi, Bafwapada.

Appropriate management

To create new farmland, people still resort to the slash-and-burn technique where they cut trees, let them lie and later burn the land. This is allowed within a CFCL, but deforestation will only continue this way.

A new approach to forest management starts with dividing an area into zones. For example, there are zones where forests are mainly maintained; these forests then serve to regulate the water cycle and the climate (forests absorb CO2) and to ensure water quality. From the zones designated for rural development, the inhabitants can obtain products such as wood and food.

Everything is currently being mapped: the use of forest and its products, an “inventory” of forests,… and the vision of the whole area. With its help, degraded areas can be identified and restoration activities agreed upon. To be continued.


Partners: BOS+, Tropenbos en Tropenbos DRC