Central African Republic

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Population

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Country size

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Forest cover

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overview

Lying on the northern edge of the Congo Basin, the Central African Republic (CAR) contains vastly different ecosystems, with dry savannah landscapes in the centre and north, and lush tropical forests in the south. These forests contain some of the most abundant wildlife in Africa including forest elephants, bongos, lowland gorillas and chimpanzees. 

The forests in the south-west are inhabited by the indigenous Bayaka, who to a large extent depend on hunting and gathering for their subsistence, alongside other forest-dependent Bantu communities. There is endemic discrimination against indigenous peoples, sometimes resulting in forced labour. 

The state has allocated the vast majority of the forest to timber operations and protected areas, disregarding the land rights of local communities and hampering their access to the resources on which they depend.  

Prevailing insecurity and political instability in vast areas of the countries has slowed down progress in forest governance and in promoting the rights of local communities.  

Community Forests are in CAR’s law since 2008, but lack of political will has meant that no communities have succeeded in securing their lands under this framework.

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Our Impacts

RFUK and our local partner CADD were early advocates of community forests in CAR and succeeded to obtain the first ever community forest in the country’s history. Sadly, the concession was revoked and now the fight continues to get it reinstated, and to get more concessions approved.

In spite of the challenging legal and political context, RFUK has supported local communities to map thousands of hectares of traditional lands and to improve their livelihoods through innovative agricultural improvements programmes.

In 2010, CAR became the first country in Central Africa to ratify ILO Convention 169 on the rights of indigenous peoples, partly thanks to RFUK’s advocacy. Since then we have kept fighting to make its provisions a reality on the ground.

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Projects and Campaigns

Community Forests

Our Community Forests project aims to establish a successful model of community-based forest management, one that focuses on the rights, needs and priorities of local communities, including those of marginalised groups such as indigenous peoples and women.

Mapping for Rights

Mapping For Rights is an award-winning, interactive community map project for the Congo Basin, which started in November 2011 and is ongoing.

Conservation & Human Rights

The traditional ‘fortress conservation’ approach of the west is premised on the dangerous yet persistent idea that local people need to be separated from nature to keep it “pristine” (sometimes for the benefit of foreign tourists). This does not only drive human rights violations but is also ineffective as it ignores and alienates the very people who have shaped and stewarded those landscapes for millennia.

Latest publications

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Roads to Ruin: the emerging impacts of infrastructure development in Congo Basin forests

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Making community forests work for local and indigenous communities in the Central African Republic

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Étude sur la Convention 169 de l’Organisation Internationale du Travail relative aux peuples indigènes et tribaux en RCA

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Central African Republic: Linking rights, capacity strengthening, REDD and FLEGT

Partners