Project information

Protecting rainforest with community maps

Today more and more of the Congo Basin’s forest people are being forced out of their traditional home to pave the way for commercial logging, mining and agriculture. Stopping the displacement of local people with a tangible proof of their existence like a map can protect rainforest.

January 2016 - December 2016

Charity information

The Rainforest Foundation UK

The Rainforest Foundation UK logo
  • Need


    The construction of new road networks and other infrastructure developments, as well as the expansion of large scale plantation and logging activities, severely threaten many traditionally isolated and remote communities, who depend on the forest for their survival. When families are displaced from their traditional lands, they become sick and impoverished. Communities lose access to their livelihoods, children lose accesses to education and health services and social connections are severed.


    In Congo Basin indigenous peoples and local communities have virtually no formal or legally-recognised control of the lands they traditionally occupy, though they are sometimes permitted to use it. Community maps deliver tangible proof of rainforest peoples’ existence and support them in protecting their home and their livelihoods. There is significant evidence that proof of local peoples’ existence is one of the most effective ways to secure rights to land preserving rainforest's resources.

  • Aims

    Aim 1

    Enable forest communities to defend their home and protect their rights.


    » Train communities to map their traditional lands and use of forest resources using accessible and low-cost hardware.
    » Increase legal training for local NGO’s and communities so they can engage in processes of developing and implementing legislation.
    » Support forest communities in negotiating with timber companies, government and other agencies to protect their forests from threats.
    » Build capacity of indigenous communities to understand and exercise their rights.

    The mapping of 700 communities (and 5 million ha. of rainforest lands) in the Congo Basin and provision of legal knowledge to nearly 1,500 community representatives.

    Aim 2

    Promote better laws and policies to protect forests, and rights for forest communities.


    » Map lands and resources
    » Use evidence provided by the maps to advocate with governments for better laws and policies that protect forests and the rights of forest peoples.
    » Promote the local knowledge and traditional methods used by indigenous and traditional forest communities to sustain rainforests and biodiversity.
    » Demonstrate community tenure through an online database of rainforests, using mapping data collected from working directly with forest communities.

    Communities demonstrating their customary land tenure through mapping data and are involved in decision making of new laws on forests and land rights.

  • Impact


    We train forest communities to map their lands, understand and use laws to protect their rights, and make proposals for policy changes based on their problems. Project trainees will be able to provide training to others, broadening the impact of our work. By giving local communities the knowledge and tools to protect their lands the project has greater long term sustainability.


    The project assumes that partner communities, NGOs and government staff are able and willing to work with us. We have addressed this risk by working with long-term local partners in each project area. We also assume that the security and weather situations are adequate to allow safe travel and reasonable safety for RFUK and partner staff. We have addressed this by safety and security training for all staff and adhering to reliable information on travel safety.


    1. Formal 6-montly project reports against project outputs to high-level donors
    2. Less formal 3-monthy updates by our electronic newsletter, via blogs, images and video clips demonstrating project activities.

  • Budget

    Budget - Project Cost: £40,000

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      Amount Heading Description
      £25,000 Community Mapping Enable forest communities to defend their home and protect their rights
      £15,000 Rights promotion Promote better laws and policies to protect forests and rights for forest communities.
  • Background


    The Congo Basin in central Africa is the second largest area of rainforest in the world covering 180,000,000 hectares. Today, more than 50 million indigenous people depend entirely on rainforests for their survival. The Congo Basin rainforest is home to 1,000 species of birds, 400 species of mammals, including most of the world’s forest elephants and great apes. Four of the five countries we work in Congo Basin are in the 50 poorest on the UNDP Human Development Index.


    The indigenous peoples we work with are among the most vulnerable communities in the world’s rainforests. This stems from the conflict in their region, the lack of land rights and from an endemic discrimination. Protecting rainforest and halting new developments our work would also benefit the rainforest habitat vital for many rare and endangered species such as great apes and forest elephants. By helping to regulate the world’s climate, rainforests if protected will benefit us all.

  • Why Us?

    Why Us?

    RFUK has 25 years’ experience in building the capacity of NGOs and indigenous peoples’ organisations to understand, secure and exercise their rights; with this, and with a worldwide network of partners, from which we can draw lessons. We bring substantial added value to rights-based efforts to secure basic services such as education and access to justice. In the last 25 years The Rainforest Foundation has protected over 11,000,000 ha of rainforest.

    Read more about the Charity running this project.


    Simon Counsell, Executive Director Of The Rainforest Foundation UK

    A leading advocate for a change in forests and climate issues having worked to protect rainforests for over 25 years.