The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is often known for political instability, civil strife and poverty.  However, for many, DRC is better known for its vast forest resources. The country is home to Africa’s largest biome, covering nearly two-thirds of its landmass. 60%, or 155 million hectares, of the Congo Basin Forest system falls within the borders of DRC. This area of tropical forest, roughly the same size as France, is the world’s second largest forest system. It is responsible for the storage of 8% of the carbon contained in the Earth’s living forests.
 
Funding numbersThese globally important forest resources are also exploited by many of DRC’s 60 million inhabitants to earn a livelihood. Despite their significant importance, DRC’s forest resources are under threat from both deforestation and forest degradation.DRC ranks among the world’s top ten countries in terms of annual forest cover loss. As with many countries around the world, this forest loss is driven by large-scale illegal logging, the negative impacts of small-scale farming, weak institutional capacity and a low level of private sector involvement in forest activities. 
Recognizing the need to arrest this negative trend, the DRC Government undertook the development of an ambitious and transformative REDD (Reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation) National Strategy Framework in 2009 which seeks to bring greater coherence and heightened importance to the coordination of REDD+ at both the local and national levels. It is anticipated that this strategy will:
  • Bolster institutional capacity for sustainable forest governance
  • Facilitate greater stakeholder involvement
  • Enable increased private sector investment

The Forest Investment Program is a pivotal element of this REDD+ strategy. The investment plan for DRC, with CIF financing of $58.4 million and implemented jointly by the World Bank and African Development Bank, will seek to enhance on-going national processes and target specific areas of investment, including:

  • Afforestation and reforestation – using both agroforestry and assisted natural regeneration as well as approaches developed by local forestry initiatives
  • Dissemination of improved cook stoves and charcoal production techniques – seeking to increase the usage of cook stoves which currently stands at about 5% and use village-based capacity building to encourage more productive charcoal production
  • Development of alternative energy sources – using agricultural waste, such as compressed charcoal dust, to produce biomass briquettes
  • Community-based capacity building on sustainable forest management – this community approach can have a synergistic impact with other biomass and forest activities under the FIP IP

The investment plan aims to directly arrest deforestation by channeling financing to key regions which act as supply areas for large urban centers and by providing resources to create an enabling environment for activities which promote sustainable forest management practices and sound forest governance.  

An integral aspect of REDD+ is the need to ensure coherence between differing institutions and approaches. The FIP investment plan fully recognizes this coherence and looks to maximize the complementarity of the diverse financing mechanisms supporting DRC’s national REDD+ readiness process. FIP financed activities will both draw, and build upon, efforts being made by UN-REDD, the Forest Carbon Partnership Facility (FCPF), the Global Environment Facility (GEF) and DRC’s own Ministry of Environment, Nature Conservation and Tourism, which plays a key leadership role in the REDD+ strategy. Speaking at a recent FIP Pilot Country Meeting in Kinshasa, Xavier Mugumya of Uganda’s Water and Environment Department, highlighted the importance of this coherence: “The procedures and processes with FIP are very similar to the other programs we’re involved in such as the Forest Carbon Partnership Facility, the Global Environment Facility and UN REDD.  It’s important for the countries that we can report in similar manners to all the initiatives – and it means the initiatives are coordinated to help tackle our country’s challenges.”  

It is clear that the Congolese government and people are undaunted by the magnitude of the task in front of them and have embraced a strategic vision which is built upon the transformative impact that the sustainable management of its forests can have on poverty reduction, biodiversity loss and environmental protection as well as acting as a model for REDD+ coordination in other countries and contributing to slowing the pace of climate change globally. 

 

 

 

 

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