Forest Conservation

Forest Conservation:

The project National REDD+ Project in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is a unique Avoided Unplanned Deforestation and Degradation (AUD). This initiative proceeds with promoting mitigation of climate change, biodiversity loss, habitat destruction and enhance the livelihood of the communities in the provinces of Tshopo, Sankuru, Tshuapa, Equateur, Bas-Uele and Maniema provinces as per a well-established Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation (REDD+) project. The project aims at conservation of 72010950 hectares of forest and several endemic & threatened species and their critical habitat viz., Okapi (Okapia johnstoni), Eastern lowland gorilla (Gorilla beringei graueri), Eastern chimpanzee (Pan troglodytes schweinfurthii) and Congo Peacock (Afropavo congensis). Endangered species and/or critically endangered species l’Hoest’s Monkey (Allochrocebus lhoesti), Dryas monkey (Cercopithecus dryas) Grauer’s gorilla (Gorilla beringei graueri) and the eastern chimpanzee (Pan troglodytes schweinfurthii).

Over the decades, humans played a vital role in shaping up landscapes by utilizing the ecosystem services for the sustenance of the societies. The Democratic Republic of Congo (hereafter, DRC), the second-largest tropical rainforest in the world located in Central Africa is inhabited by 70 million people approximately and 150 distinct ethnic groups many of whom are dependent shifting agriculture, hunting and firewood from forests. DRC includes 234 million hectares of land with 107 million in forest. The basin is defined by the watershed of the Congo. The Congo basin is home to mountain gorillas, lowland gorillas, chimps, forest Elephants, and over 1,000 species of birds such as pelicans, parrots, many species of sunbirds, pigeons, ducks, geese, eagles, vultures, cuckoos, owls, cranes, storks, and swallows. Insects are innumerable. There are hundreds of butterfly species; in the savanna woodlands, butterflies fill the skies at the beginning of the rains. There are also numerous varieties of bees, grasshoppers, caterpillars, praying mantises, beetles, dragonflies, scorpions, mosquitoes, tsetse flies, ants, termites, spiders, centipedes, and millipedes.

The land use and land cover change in DRC are both natural and anthropogenic. Over hundreds of years, locals depend on natural resources for their needs and sustainable livelihood aspirations. Historically, native populations of Africa have practiced shifting cultivation for thousands of years. The cultivation includes cassava, yams, cocoyam, banana, and occasionally ground nuts. Traditionally, farmers cleared an area of forest, cultivate for 2 years and allow a fallow period of 5-20 years depending upon soil conditions, land availability, and other factors, and returned to clear and cultivate again. The palm oil generation is native to the African rainforests. About 2.6 million hectares of land across central and western Africa designated under palm cultivation hence, humid forests are under risk. The roads have increased tremendously is DRC as logging concession holders spend significant resources to build and maintain access roads. Traditionally, logging in past years used river transport but have increasingly turned to roads. Hydroelectric dams are a new and growing infrastructure investment with the potential to transform the forests and economy of the Congo Basin. Mining is an important activity in the forested region of the Congo basin. Gold, diamonds, cobalt, copper, and oil are major resources that are mined from the region. Most of the mining is small scale, artisanal, and/or unregulated. Recently, coltan and cassiterite, rare minerals used in mobile phones are mined from DRC. Fruit trees including African mango, butter fruit, Kola nut – the chief ingredient in Coca-Cola, mangosteen, Njangsa, tamarind, ber fruit, and African palm oil have formed the significant source of the agroforestry project in DRC. In general, the Congo Basin contains relatively intact forests, although mining, unsustainable commercial logging, charcoal fuel-wood harvesting, and bush meat hunting are significant threats.

Tropical forest in DRC holds a vast reservoir for carbon in biomass which is important for climate change mitigation. The Project has established a robust and transparent forest monitoring system for reporting estimates of forest area, carbon stocks, and developing infrastructure to reduce emissions from deforestation and degradation for incentive. The objective of the project is to reduce deforestation in six provinces by the implementation of conservation activities which avoid deforestation.

This project’s climate benefits include emissions (avoided) of approximately 155243885277 (one hundred fifty-five billion two hundred forty-three million eight hundred eighty-five thousand two hundred seventy-seven) tCO2e over the lifetime of the Project which is a hundred years. This project also proceeds with substantial co-benefits in terms of overall community improvement and preservation and enhancement of biodiversity. The project endeavours to achieve such benefits on a continuous basis. The programs as a part of this initiative will improvise health and livelihoods by creating awareness for the environment and biodiversity amongst the community. Biodiversity co-benefits will be achieved through greater protection of the habitat for endemic and critically endangered species through regular monitoring by patrolling.

This REDD+ Project is basically a community based REDD+ project with no evictions and no conflicts involved. Absolutely no displacement of human settlements and any other kind of disturbance due to this REDD+ project either in the project area or its surroundings.

Climate Benefits

The climate objective of the Project is to avoid and prevent the unplanned deforestation in native forests of Democratic Republic of Congo thus avoiding the net emission. The objective will be achieved by managing the forest land by means of conservation and protection measures with community participation. Such measures shall include a rigorous monitoring and enforcement plan. The skill development and training of the community members will help in ensuring that long term objectives for conservation and protection of forest resources and their sustainable use are achieved. The Project will provide support to enhance the community‘s organizational capabilities for better management of the local resources.

Community benefits

The Project will provide enhanced livelihood by constructing, rehabilitating and/or maintain health centres and medical facilities in the Project area, improvisation of the school infrastructure, clean drinking water in the relevant villages, and distribute energy efficient cook stoves to reduce the dependency on the forest resources. Food security measures like seed distribution and fish cultivation is also planned. The skill development and training of the community members will help in ensuring that long term objectives for conservation and protection of forest resources and their sustainable use are achieved. The 48,000 Community members will receive awareness training resulting in improved skills and knowledge, 2,000+ Local employments in Project Area, 431,677+ community members will have enhanced well-being, enhanced health and educational infrastructure. 24,000 Community women receive awareness training resulting in improved skills and knowledge. This projects also provides 1000+ Local employment to women, 215,838+ women will have enhanced well-being, enhanced health and educational infrastructure and 32,500 women will receive improved cook stoves.

Biodiversity benefits

The Project will offer protection to native biodiversity and the trigger species Okapi (endangered species, IUCN 2015), Pan Paniscus (Bonobo), and Pan troglodytes (Chimpanzee). The Project will also manage the forest land through avoided unplanned deforestation and will enhance ecosystem functionality by allowing deforested area to regenerate. In general, the project will protect and conserve 72,010,950 hectares of biologically important area.