Democratic Republic
of the Congo




Country size


Forest cover



DRC hosts Africa’s largest expanse of tropical forest, including roughly 60 per cent of the Congo Basin rainforest – home to flora and fauna found nowhere else on earth. These forests are now under unprecedented pressure from the extractive industries, infrastructure development and agricultural expansion as DRC tries to emerge from two decades of political instability and violent conflict that led to the collapse of the economy. 

In 2014, it was reported that close to 90 per cent of logging in DRC is illegal, and there is little immediate prospect of state-led improvements to this situation. A moratorium on industrial logging has been in place since 2002, though there have been repeated attempts over the years to have the moratorium lifted. 

Efforts to conserve the forest, such as through reducing emissions from deforestation and degradation (REDD) and the protected area network, have often wrongly targeted communities as the agents of forest destruction, further impinging on their land and resource rights. 

However, since 2016 the DRC also has arguably the most progressive laws on community forestry in the region. This has allowed communities to secure their collective rights over their traditional lands for the first time, and now they have the opportunity to manage them in a way that preserves both their livelihoods and the forest.


Our Impacts

With our partners, we campaigned for years for revolutionary legislation that would enable communities to secure their forests. Now, this law is a reality and more than 2 million hectares have been designated as community forests nationwide 

Directly, we have helped to secure 100,000 hectares for over 25,000 people, who already see improvements in their quality of life. 

Our real time monitoring work led to the countries’ first ever criminal charges against a logging company under the 2002 Forest Code, as well as to legal recognition of real time community-based monitoring.  

Thanks to our investigations, legal action and relentless campaigning at the national and international level, park rangers in Salonga National Park were sentenced to prison for rape and torture. This was the first time conservation agents committing abuses have been brought to account. This has prompted a wider reckoning in the conservation sector in DRC and beyond, prompting to a paradigm shift towards approaches that uphold the rights of local populations.  

For years, we have advocated in favour of genuine participation and respect for human rights in REDD+ and carbon credit projects in DRC.  

Members of Ilinga community, in DRC’s Equateur Province, celebrate as their community forest is officially granted in September 2018. Ilinga is one of several communities supported by the Rainforest Foundation UK and its local partners to map their forests and obtain a community forest.

Projects and Campaigns


Real-time community-based monitoring is a tool that connects local people with national law enforcement in an effort to stop illegal logging and deforestation.

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.

Industrial Logging

Whilst it is claimed the industry provides jobs, income, infrastructure and development in remote rural areas, the truth is that logging work is often poorly paid, dangerous and temporary. The logging industry is known to be rife with illegalities, social conflicts, and deeply corrupting of political institutions.

Carbon Offsetting & REDD+

Forest carbon offsetting has long been controversial, criticised as a form of greenwashing that not only serves to delay urgent climate action in the global north, but is based on huge uncertainties in the way it is measured, which can lead to the production of ‘hot air’ credits and even fraud.

Latest publications

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

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Use it and lose it – Industrial logging and its role in deforestation in the Democratic Republic of Congo

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Final evaluation: Embedding community Real Time Monitoring (RTM) to sustain livelihoods and forests in West and Central Africa

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REDD-MINUS: The Rhetoric and Reality of the Mai Ndombe REDD+ Programme