Huge and largely inaccessible, the Congo Basin forest is the world’s second-largest rainforest covering an area four times the size of California.

The biggest driver of forest loss here is a surprising culprit: the basic need for families to gather firewood to cook on traditional stoves. This way of cooking is not only damaging for local people’s health, but it’s also an increasing threat to the forest and its biodiversity.

Over 90% of Congolese families continue to use charcoal as fuel. To support people and address this threat, Cool Earth is working with Fauna & Flora International (FFI) and the community of Lubutu. When it comes to reducing fuelwood use, it’s been a resounding success. So far, 811 stoves have been built. This has directly contributed to a 50% reduction in firewood collection, making a huge dent in reducing forest loss in the local area around Lubutu. 

There’s still much to be done. Conflict, poverty and bushmeat hunting continue to put pressure on the forest and natural resources. The protection of the rare, endemic Grauer’s Gorilla is a key part of the wider FFI programme. By carrying out biomonitoring patrols and other livelihood development activities, the local community is protecting endangered wildlife, essential to maintaining a healthy, biodiverse forest.

Partner Organisation: Fauna & Flora International



With 90% of households cooking using charcoal, this is a key cause of forest loss and has 8 times the impact of logging in the DRC.

As open charcoal fires burn, often inside homes or in areas with limited ventilation, they release up to 5% of greenhouse gas emissions worldwide, and plumes of smoke and soot are liable for 4.3 million premature deaths each year.

With a growing population, deforestation rates are rising from logging to sell trees for an income.


Planned Outcomes

The degradation of forest through fuel-wood extraction chips away at healthy, functioning ecosystems. Providing community members with fuel-efficient stoves is helping protect the rainforest, as less wood is gathered to be burned for charcoal.

With plans to build another 1,500 stoves, the word is spreading about the best ways to reduce pressure on the trees and counter threats to rare endemic wildlife. It’s one smart idea that’s not just making a difference to the health of the forest, but transforming the lives and health of local communities too.


“If you use the forest in a sustainable way, you can link your livelihood with conserving the forest for a very long time.” - Mbake Sivha, Lubutu
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