Mapping for Rights


MappingForRights is an award-winning community mapping and land-use planning initiative that enables local communities to demonstrate their presence and use of the forest; governments and the private sector to take account of and recognise this presence; and to assist the international community in ensuring that programmes concerned with the Congo Basin’s forests provide equitable benefits.


The issue

The Congo Basin forests are home to tens of thousands of communities whose customary tenure systems extend across the region. However, they typically lack formal rights to areas they have inhabited and protected for generations and are largely excluded from decisions about the forests they depend on. This leaves many as “squatters” on their own lands, living in very poor conditions on the edge of logging concessions and strictly protected areas.

Underlying this marginalisation is often a lack of reliable and transparent information on their use, ownership and possession of forests as well as the threats facing them.

What we're doing

  • MappingForRights puts otherwise 'invisible' forest communities on the map by providing easy access to accurate geographical information about their presence, land use and rights. It enables communities themselves to map their lands through low-cost, transferrable technologies and a participatory mapping methodology developed on the back of more than 20 years’ field experience. This data is then made available to authorized users through the online interactive Congo Basin Community Atlas where it can be analysed in the context of other forest uses.
  • This has played a key role in promoting the rights of local communities in land reforms, protected area management, REDD+ programmes and other processes as well as laying the geographical foundation for community forests. With legal security over their lands, the programme also provides communities with a set of tools and approaches to develop and implement sustainable land-use plans for these areas.
  • Tools such as MappingForRights are a crucial first step in identifying and securing community lands.

our impacts


1,000 Communities mapped

The largest community mapping project in Africa with more than nine million hectares – an area the size of Scotland. 


Award-winning Innovation

Awarded the 2016 UNFCCC Momentum for Change award for innovative, scalable and replicable examples of climate change action.


Rights-based advocacy

Put communities on the map in major policy processes such as the DRC logging moratorium, protected area management, REDD+ and community forests. 

Featured publications

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Participatory Mapping and Community Forests in the Democratic Republic of Congo

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Protected Areas and Community Rights: Using Local Maps to Support Sustainable Conservation in the Congo Basin

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At Loggerheads: The Moratorium, Geographical Programming And Community Mapping In DRC

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Mapping For Rights: Putting Rainforest Communities on the Map