CI supports the government of the DRC to conserve biodiversity and healthy ecosystems as part of a vision for sustainable development through promoting green economies for the welfare of local people.
The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) contains over 60 percent of the forests of the Congo Basin and therefore houses an incredible array of biodiversity that the country is working to conserve effectively, manage sustainably and value appropriately.
The government’s vision is to establish protected areas over 15 percent of the national territory. The main challenge of this vision is developing models for sustainable management of natural resources that will also help to reduce the poverty of nearly 70 million residents, all in a post-conflict context where the poverty level of millions people has increased.
To address this challenge, the DRC has put in place a natural resources management framework and is currently preparing its Readiness Preparation Proposal for REDD that will enable the development of a national REDD strategy by 2012. Meanwhile, a land-use planning and zoning process is underway. It is in this context that Conservation International (CI) is engaged in three focal areas: environmental conservation, economic growth and social development.
IN DEPTH: Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation "plus" conservation, the sustainable management of forests and enhancement of forest carbon stocks (REDD+)
As regards environmental conservation, CI’s activities contribute to the Central African Regional Program for the Environment (CARPE) within the Congo Basin Forest Partnership (CBFP). CI is the leader of Landscape 10 (Maiko Tayna Kahuzi Biega), one of 12 focal landscapes of this program. Covering 10,601,000 hectares, Landscape 10 is a watershed for a major freshwater river system inhabited by 5.5 million people and is also home to rare and endangered species including eastern lowland gorilla, okapi, Congo peafowl, chimpanzee and forest elephant.
In two landscapes (9 and 10), CI supports national institutions to conserve biodiversity by funding the management of six protected areas (Maiko National Park, Kahuzi-Biega National Park, Tayna Natural Reserve, Kisimba-Ikobo Natural Reserve, Itombwe Natural Reserve and Kokolopori Natural Reserve) in partnership with Diane Fossey Gorilla Fund International (DFGFI), World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), Bonobo Conservation Initiative (BCI) and the Institut Congolais pour la Conservation de la Nature (ICCN). CI supports a community conservation approach that is unique in DRC and that includes involving local communities in managing protected area buffer zones, developing ecological corridors that allow animals to move between protected areas, managing resources sustainably and efficiently through co-management regimes, and developing local land-use plans.
CI promotes economic growth based on the principles of green economies. This includes providing both technical and financial support for the coordination of a national REDD strategy as well as developing two REDD pilot projects in two nature reserves (Tayna and Kisimba-Ikobo) in North Kivu province. CI is also developing a conservation concession REDD project in the Equateur province, which demonstrates to the government that commercialization of the carbon stock is a viable alternative to extractive, industrial use of the forest. Carbon revenue from these efforts will contribute to reducing poverty and supporting local development within a decentralized structure.
LEARN MORE: Building a Green Economy
In the buffer zones, CI will provide technical support to increase agricultural production through zero-carbon, sustainable agriculture and improved marketing of local products as a means for achieving self-sufficiency. In addition, in partnership with the Jane Goodall Institute (JGI), a microhydroelectric facility was established in Kasugho to benefit the Tayna Center for Conservation Biology (TCCB) and local people.
Because people are at the center of conservation and development, CI focuses on training through its support for building and operating schools (primary, secondary and university), providing microcredit to women farmers, constructing health clinics, developing land-use planning instruments, and supporting scientific research in the field of animal disease to prevent transmission of disease between people and apes.
LEARN MORE: Human health