Mapping NGOs working on forest governance and wildlife protection in the Congo Basin

3 February 2022
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NGOs working in the environmental sector, specifically in the fields of forest governance and wildlife protection, in four countries of the Congo Basin region, Cameroon, Congo- Brazzaville, Gabon and CAR. The study took place within the framework of the project Strengthening Law Enforcement on Fauna and Flora in Central Africa (RALFF), funded by the European Union, with additional funding from the Forest Governance Markets and Climate Programme, of the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO). 

“Independent Forest and Wildlife Monitoring are approaches widely used by many   civil society actors around the globe”, says Prof Aurelian Mbzibain, one of the authors of the report and CIDT forest governance expert. Fledgling research has been carried out on the typology of NGOs implementing strategies, but much more must be done to characterise these NGOs, the challenges they face and the synergies between the work of the two sectors. Prof Mbzibain explains, “One of the main questions to explore through this research is why large International NGOs work mainly in the field of wildlife protection and conservation, while smaller local NGOs focus more on IFM and illegal logging?”

“Finding an answer to this question was complex and layered”, explains Habiba Mohamed, a research team member, “Our respondents raised various factors such as the difficulty to raise sufficient funding for engagement in the field to support monitoring and investigations”. Another factor was the fear of criminal networks and threats, as small local NGOs lack the level of protection available for INGO staff members. Finally, Mrs Mohamed adds that some research participants touched on cultural factors: Communities see wildlife as meat and a source of protein as opposed to something to be preserved for economic or social benefit. Local NGOs feared the rejection of the communities if they preached the message of conservation or protection which limits community access to traditional hunting/fishing/cultural sites in forests, especially when they don’t have the means to assist them in improving their economic situation.  

The report identities several internal and external challenges faced by local and international NGOs in the field, including issues like internal governance, leadership, gender issues, financial sustainability, the challenging relationship with governments and the controversial relationships with the private sector.  

Download the full report in English. 

Download the Executive Summary in English.