Équateur Province

Putting Indigenous peoples and local communities at the heart of rainforest protection.

In partnership with Go Conscious Earth, Cool Earth supports local people in Équateur Province in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) to ensure that their rainforest is sustainably protected, used and managed by Indigenous peoples and local communities.

DRC is home to more than half of the Congo Basin rainforest, and an estimated 40 million people depend on the country’s forests for at least part of their livelihood.

Threats to the forest

Forests in the area are threatened by large-scale logging, poorly run conservation initiatives, and a growing global demand for natural resources.

The key drivers of forest loss include:

  • Weak recognition of customary land rights
  • Top-down land use planning by governments and policed NGOs
  • Unsustainable management of forest resources
  • Increasing demand for energy
  • Exclusion of women and Indigenous peoples from decision making

This is where Go Conscious Earth comes in.

Who is Go Conscious Earth?

In 2012, Godi Godar Moteke Molanga, launched Go Conscious Earth in response to a plea from his mother, who saw logging companies destroying rainforest in their village of Ikongo Boginda, at the edge of Lake Tumba.

Forest protected

Using his connections in the local community and provincial government, Godi secured a temporary agreement to protect a one million acre tract of land surrounding his and neighbouring villages. As of 2018, much of that land has now become community owned.

The Rainforest is our mother. She provides us with all that we need: cool climate, shelter, medicine, water, food, the air we breathe, and so much more” -Godi Godar

How do local community forest concessions work?

In this case, it means that the four local communities in the Bikoro Territory have legal rights to their land in perpetuity. The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has indeed developed a progressive legal framework in recent years that allows communities to claim millions of hectares of traditional lands and forests for sustainable community forest management.

Go Conscious Earth supports these four local community forest concessions through formal recognition of customary tenure, governance and capacity-building, participatory land use planning, forest friendly livelihoods and community conservation, and the empowerment of women and Indigenous peoples.

Local community forest concession members standing in canoes over the water, forest can be seen in the background.

GCE’s Équateur-based project manager, Petro Ebembe, together with GCE’s provincial coordinator, Taylor Lompoko, trained a total of 67 community organisers in the four communities. In turn, these community organisers helped to plan and deliver community assemblies leading to the establishment of four local management committees, four monitoring and evaluation committees and four councils of elders. Decision-making bodies include women and Indigenous peoples.

This ensures that local communities and Indigenous peoples are included in governance processes and can take control of the sustainable management protection of their rainforests.