In terms of natural resource endowment, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is one of the wealthiest countries in Africa. However its citizenry are amongst the poorest in the world. Some of the most impoverished and politically marginalized people – indigenous and local forest communities - live here. They mostly rely upon forests and other natural resources to secure their basic livelihoods through subsistence forest hunting and gathering, and small-scale agriculture. These forest peoples currently have little or no influence over national and provincial decisions about how their customary lands will be used by commercial or conservation groups, whose interests are often in conflict with forest communities’ needs, priorities and basic human rights.
Forest Peoples Programme staff recently visited forest communities in Equateur province, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), who they have been supporting since 2009 with information-sharing and consultation meetings related to REDD and conflict prevention. During training and project monitoring visits FPP and our local partner CEDEN (Cercle pour la defense de l'environnement) held public meetings with around 2000 forest people from across the Lac Tumba conservation landscape.