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.