Addressing climate change in the Democratic Republic of Congo: support for training and reforestation

Forests cover 67% of territory of the DR Congo, with an estimated area of 155.5 million ha, of which 99 million ha is dense humid forests. By the standards of other tropical forest regions, the deforestation rate in the Congo Basin and DRC has been quite moderate over the past decades. Nevertheless, forest degradation and deforestation are significant in some regions, particularly those surrounding Kinshasa and other large cities. In the DRC as elsewhere in the Congo Basin, forests are a major source of livelihoods and revenue for both the formal and the informal sectors. Improved forest protection and management is therefore a key component of the DRC’s response to climate change, in terms of both adaptation and mitigation.

Reducing carbon emissions and enhancing forest carbon stocks

Overall objective:

Support the DRC in implementing its climate change policy, by strengthening its programme for reducing carbon emissions and enhancing carbon stocks.

Specific objectives:

  • Implement training programmes on adaptation- and mitigation-related topics, at various levels.
  • Support the development of agroforestry plantations and degraded forest restoration and management in the east of the DRC.
Main expected results and activities: 

The capacities of stakeholders in the forest and environment sector are strengthened with regard to climate change adaptation and mitigation.

The GCCA programme will provide technical support to the Ministry of Environment for mainstreaming climate change into the national forest and energy strategies.

The University of Kisangani will be strengthened in its role of training centre and centre of competence in charge of supporting the generational transition within the forest and environment administration. Support will be given to the development and delivery of short training programmes and the continuation of diploma-level education programmes as well as relevant research initiatives initiated with 10th EDF funding and by other donors. 

Capacity building will focus on the skills required for ecosystem-based adaptation, carbon stock measurement and monitoring, the implementation of measures that realise synergies between adaptation and mitigation in the forest sector, and the design of effective, efficient and equitable adaptation and mitigation strategies. Programmes will be adapted for various target groups (e.g. civil servants, policy makers, media, civil society). Equipment for the rehabilitation of a number of training centres will also be purchased.

In the second most populated region of the country, agroforestry plantations and restored, well-managed forest ecosystems provide woodfuel and income to local populations, thus helping reduce pressure on protected forests.

Concrete measures will be undertaken to protect forests in the eastern part of the country, notably in the vicinity of the Virunga National Park. In the wake of the success of similar initiatives in the western part of the country, the development of woodfuel plantations will be encouraged, at various scales and by various actors (village communities, small private land owners, private investors). The restoration and more sustainable management of degraded natural forests will also be supported.

This component will involve social and environmental impact assessments and studies on ‘enabling’ themes (e.g. territorial planning, land tenure issues, general planning), as well as direct support for the development and management of agroforestry plantations. Priority areas will be defined and agreements prepared with local authorities, including decentralised government levels and customary authorities. Community-based forest management plans focused on woodfuel production will also be prepared.

These approaches are expected to increase the supply of wood for charcoal under sustainable conditions, to provide new livelihood and income opportunities for local populations, to increase carbon stocks (thus creating opportunities to access international carbon finance flows), and ultimately to reduce pressure on natural forests.

Key achievements: 
  • Rehabilitation and construction of training, research and administrative facilities
  • Delivery of academic training courses at Master's degree and PhD level
  • More than 1200 participants (of diverse institutional background) exposed to short courses (several hours to several weeks)
  • 5 axes of research developed: 1) bush meat, 2) governance (CITES - Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, etc.), 3) forest dynamics, 4) large wildlife, 5) Non ligneous forest products,  and a transversal axis: Landscape change and climate change.
  • Communication and awareness program (strategy) completed
  • A social and environmental impact study covering the entire Protected Area and its periphery completed.
  • “Alliance Virunga” consultation platform is in place.
  • 3,029 ha of plantations and over 4.8 million planted trees.
  • Study on the increase of the carbon stock interrupted for reasons of security and accessibility in December 2016.
Lessons learned: 
  • The strong anchoring of the programme in the national strategy and priorities is an asset.
  • The programme’s various components (support for climate change mainstreaming, capacity strengthening and field activities) are complementary and expected to feed each other. The administration is involved in the preparation of the actions covered by the CIFOR contract and the support missions to the Ministry must be able to support the general strategy and the implementation of capacity building and field activities.
  • The security situation in the east of the country is a challenge for the implementation of the activities of the second component of the program. The start-up required a major effort of analysis, research and consultation on the ground.
Way forward: 

Activities in support of the training centre / centre of competence at the University of Kisangani should start shortly after the project inception workshop.

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