In the past two decades, community forestry has yielded uneven results in the Congo Basin. The initial goal - enabling local communities to benefit directly from forest management - is not yet a reality. Problems include uneven political support, legal and technical constraints, land grabbing and revenue capture. All of these have a detrimental impact on communities.
Community forestry has nonetheless become established in the region, and its potential to strengthen communities’ livelihoods, protect forests and meet climate objectives is widely recognised.
Stronger and better support to community forest management is timely given Congo Basin and EU donor commitments to the Sustainable Development Goals, the Paris Agreement and the Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade (FLEGT) Action Plan. All of these processes insist on the role of good forest management in poverty, reduction, biodiversity protection and the fight against climate change.
All those affected (including civil society and local communities) have a role to play in ensuring community control over forests contributes to more resilient forests, clearer land rights, and better development outcomes.
This report concludes that it is time to act - the Congo Basin forests and communities shouldn’t wait when solutions are already at hand.