The University of Wolverhampton’s Centre of International Development and Training (CIDT) has received €2.2 million for a project that aims to tackle illegal deforestation in the Republic of Congo.
The three year project, which has received funding from the European Union and the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) hopes to improve the livelihoods of forest dependent communities, contribute to biodiversity conservation and climate action.
It’s hoped these goals can be met through supporting civil society organisations and local communities to strengthen their processes to enable effective monitoring to improve forest governance in the country. This will be done using an international standard (ISO 9001: 2015) as the basis to monitor and denounce those who exploit natural resources illegally. This new system will be used by project partners to document and disseminate such violations in a credible manner.
Civil society is composed of voluntary, community and social organisations or institutions that contribute to the functioning of society and aren’t linked to the country’s government.
The CIDT will be working with a number of partners from Africa and Europe on the project.
Project Manager Dr Aurelian Mbzibain said: “The Republic of Congo is one of six Central African countries located in the Congo Basin with a forest coverage of 65 per cent.
“The forest is the second largest provider of employment as 60 per cent of the population depend on forest resources.
“However, the sector is confronted with illegal exploitation and corruption that cause the state to lose vast sums of money and contributes to forest degradation and denigrates the rights of local communities and indigenous peoples who have few livelihood options.
“Since 2014, just one non-governmental organisation (NGO) has been mandated by the Forestry Administration to monitor forest illegality in the Congo.
“Promoting a broader and decentralised surveillance framework is the key focus of this action.
“We are delighted to receive this funding from the EU and FCDO which will enable us to continue the good work started with project partners under the CV4C project which ran from 2016 to 2020.”
The team hope that by building the capacity of NGOs and their networks and expanding the range of stakeholders involved in decision-making processes, there will be a significant improvement of forest and land governance.
This will lead to a reduction in poverty, negative environmental activity and generate more inclusive social and economic development.
Dr Mbzibain added: “The development of a sustainable forest economy depends on a high level of transparency and active citizen participation in the management of natural resources.
“If the governance of forests and land is improved and the benefits are shared equitably, then the national population will benefit from sustainable forest management.”
The team will first be assessing the technical and organisational needs of the national partner organisations and then design and provide support tailored to those needs, along with those of national NGO networks and target stakeholder groups.
The CIDT will lead the project, focusing on a number of areas, including development of national civil society organisations and technical assistance on independent forest monitoring and research.
The other project partners are: FERN, Forests and Rural Development (FODER), Comptoir Juridique Junior (CJJ), Organisation pour le Développement et les Droits Humains au Congo (ODDHC), Observation Congolaise des Droits de l’Homme (OCDH), Association pour la Conservation de la Nature de la Likouala (ACNL), Cercle d’Action pour la Promotion du Bien-Etre Social (CABS), Espace des Jeunes pour l’Innovation et le Développement (EJID), and Cercle International de Recherches et d’Etudes des Civilisations beKwel (CIRECK).