Course:GEOS303/2023/Democratic Republic of Congo

From UBC Wiki
View of Kanyabayonga, located in Bwito Chiefdom, Rutshuru Territory, North Kivu Province, DRC.


National Flag of the DRC

The Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC or DR Congo) is home to one of the most diverse ecosystems in the world, with high levels of natural resources, endema ic species, unique array of flo,ra and fauna and forest resources. The gthe eography of DRC spans through a wide range of biomes, from the lush rainforests of the Congo Basin to the vast savannahs and swamp forests. Being a biodiver,sity hotspot the country faces many threats from human activities such as deforestation, overexploitation and illegal activities, leading to habitat loss and species decline.

The conservation efforts of the DRC are multifaceted. This includes the establishment of protected areas, the implementation of sustainable agricultural practices and the involvement of communities in conservation efforts. Organizations such as the Wildlife Conservation Society and initiatives such as the Congo Basin Forest Partnership are actively working to mitigate environmental impacts and promote the sustainable use of natural resources. These efforts are critical to preserving the ecological integrity of the unique ecosystems of the DRC,while also taking into account the socio-economic needs of local communities.

Climate and Biomes

World Map Location of the Democratic Republic of the Congo


The total area of the Democratic Republic of the Congo's (DRC) forest is about 155.5 million hectares, accounting for 67% of the country's territory[1], and is mainly located in the Congo Basin of the central and northern regions of the country. The majority of forests in the DRC are lowland forests growing between 300 and 1000 meters above sea level, with almost no montane forests above 1000 meters[2]. The center region, with high precipitation and no significant dry season (0 or 1-2 months of dry season), has an average annual precipitation of 2000 to 2500 mm, and the other lowland forests in the Congo Basin have an average annual precipitation of 1600 to 1800 mm[2].

Central Congolian Lowland Forests

The Central Congolian lowland forests are located in the north-central part of the DRC and cover an area of about 41.5 million hectares. The biome consists mainly of tropical and subtropical moist broadleaf forests. Topographically, the center of the central Congolian lowland forests gets as low as 400m above sea level, is flat and is the headwaters of the Lopori, Maringa, Ikelemba, Tshuapa, Lomela, and Lokoro Rivers, which are slow-flowing and have significant heavy sediment loads and alluvial islands. In terms of climate, this ecoregion has high humidity and no significant seasonality, with an average annual precipitation of about 2000 mm and an average temperature of 18 and 21 degrees Celsius. In the center of the ecoregion, the annual precipitation and average temperature are the highest, up to 2500 mm and 30° C, respectively[3].

Northeastern Congolian Lowland Forests

Northeastern Congolian lowland forests are located in the northeastern part of the DRC, covering an area of about 53.4 million hectares. It is tropical, with subtropical evergreen broadleaf forests dominating the biome of the ecoregion. Topographically, there is a gradual decrease in elevation from over 1000m in the eastern part to 600m in the western part and a change in vegetation from montane forests to lowland forests, with a diverse topography resulting in different habitat types. The climate is generally humid and tropical, with average annual precipitation ranging from 1500 mm to 2000 mm and a short dry season from January to March. The average annual temperatures are strongly influenced by elevation, ranging 15° - 21 ° C in the eastern montane areas to 27 °-33° in the western lowlands[4].

Map of ecoregions in Democratic Republic of Congo (2011)

Eastern and Western Congolian Swamp Forest

The Eastern and Western Congolian swamp forests make up one of the most extensive swamp forests in the world. The Eastern Congolian swamp forest spans 22.9 million acres [5], and the Western Congolian swamp forest spans 31.8 million acres [6] across the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The swamp forests are separated into East and West due to the ecological barrier of the Congo River; however, they are floristically similar. The swamp forests are part of the wet tropics, with a mean annual rainfall of over 2000 mm. The mean maximum temperatures are set to be over 30 degrees Celsius, and the mean minimum temperatures are 18° – 21 ° C [7]. This ecoregion's vegetation includes a mosaic of open water, swamp forest, seasonally flooded forest, dry land forest, and seasonally inundated savannas[7].

Congolian Coastal Forests

The Congolian Coastal Forest, also known as the Atlantic Equatorial Coastal Forest, is a tropical moist broadleaf forest ecoregion. This ecoregion spans 46.8 million acres over several countries, including Cameroon, Congo, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Gabon, and Equatorial Guinea[8]. The coastal forest has high rainfall due to its position in the wet tropics, with rainfall varying from 2000 mm in the north to 1200 mm in the south[9]. The mean maximum temperature ranges between 24 °– 27° C, and the mean minimum ranges 18° – 21 °C[9]. This ecoregion's vegetation consists of mixed coastal evergreen moist forests and semi-evergreen moist forests in the southern parts[9]. Also, we have Guineo-Congolian edaphic grassland at the coast and montane forest and grasslands over the mountain ranges[9].

Forest-savannah Mosaic

A forest-savannah mosaic is a transitional ecoregion between a variety of savannah types and forests (open and closed canopy). These regions typically experience between 1200-1500mm of rainfall annually on average, which makes the land fertile and suitable to be farmed. This, and the wide availability of wild fruits, honey, waterholes, and grazing areas, make it an ideal ecoregion to house many large mammals such as elephants, buffalos, hartebeests, as well as smaller animals like primates and birds. The region's abundance of water, bush meat, and wood (as both fuel and building materials) also helps support human settlement in these areas. However, the ecoregion's attractiveness has made it a prime target for human exploitation.[10].

Northern Congolian Forest-Savannah Mosaic

The Northern Congolian forest-savannah mosaic spans an area of 273,400 square miles at the northern tip of the DRC. The ecoregion experiences very little temperature seasonality, with peak daily temperatures climbing to 31°–4°C in the rainy season and daily minimum temperatures dipping to 13°–8°C in the dry season. The majority of the ecoregion has a single wet and dry season and experiences 1200–1600 mm of rainfall annually. Latitudinal differences make it so that forested areas experience high precipitation that decreases as you approach savannah regions. The majority of the ecoregion occupies a dissected plateau roughly 500m in elevation, which rises to 700m in some forested areas. The "mosaic" of the ecoregion is a product of natural fire disturbances, changes in soil, and more recently, human activity. The southern border of this ecoregion is delineated by a gradual transition from savannah/grassland to an area of continuous forest cover[11].

Köppen-Geiger climate classification map of the DRC

Southern Congolian Forest-Savannah Mosaic

The Southern Congolian forest-savannah mosaic occupies 220,000 square miles of the southern central area of the DRC [12]. Like most forest-savannah mosaic,s the region experiences lots of rainfall, around 1400mm annually when averaged over the entire region. However, the drier southeast part of the biome experiences only 1200mm of annual precipitatio,n while the forested southern and northern areas experience up to 1600mm of annual precipitation. Temperature-wise, the ecoregion experiences 27–-30°C and 18–-21°C, respectively, as the maximum and minimum mean annual temperatures. Topographically, the elevation of the ecoregion varies wildly. The lowest parts of the area are located in the southern part of the Congo basin (30–400 m) and rise to a 100-meterm plateau called the Central African Plateau[13]. Despite only a few species being endemic to the region, the mosaic contains a diverse range of fauna, such as a plethora of species of antelope and many African elephants[12].


Angolan Miombo Woodlands

The Angolan Miombo woodlands originate from central Angola and extend into the Democratic Republic of the Congo. These woodlands constitute parts of a larger miombo ecosystem that spans much of eastern and southern Africa [14]. The miombo is characterized by several unique ecological factors, including its propensity to burn, the significance of termites, and the unusual browsing conditions present. The ecoregion is part of the large miombo woodland belt, which is the most extensive tropical seasonal woodland and dry forest formation in Africa, covering an estimated 2.7 million [14]. Most of the Angolan Miombo Woodland is found at elevations between 1,000 and 1,500 m above sea level. The ecoregion lies mainly in the Cubango-Zambezi Basin, which is an extensive area of hills drained by rivers that flow eastwards into the Zambezi River. It is also drained by the endorheic Cuando-Cubango system and the Cunene River. The northern portion of the ecoregion is part of the Congo Basin, while in the west, it extends onto the Old Plateau which includes the highlands of Huíla, Huambo, and Bié [15].

Central Zambezian Miombo Woodlands

Diagram from
Walter Leith Diagram of Kisangani, DRC. One of the major centres of the Northern Congo is located along the Congo River.[16] (Diagram from[17])

The Central Zambezian miombo woodlands are some of the largest ecoregions on the continent and are home to a diverse range of wildlifes[13]. The region stretches across many countries and encompasses the southeast section of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. In terms of topography, the area is mostly a flat plateau with poor soils. It has a long dry season, and thus making the forest susceptible to fires. This ecoregion has a rainy season from November to March as well. The woodlands contain typical miombo flora of high trees with sshrubsand grassland underneath. The classic miombo trees Brachystegia, Julbernardia, and Isoberlinia dominate the woodlands. The region also houses many primates, especially in the DRC, including yellow baboons and chimpanzees[13].


Biodiversity in the DRC

Ebony Wood

The DRC is one of the most important biodiversity region in the world, ranking fifth in animal and plant biodiversity[18]. The country exhibits many geographical types, endemic species, freshwaters, and plant species, developing a solid foundation for a diverse ecosystem. During the Pleistocene aridification period in Sub-Saharan Africa, the Congo Basin served as a stable rainforest refuge, maintaining consistent forest cover and climatic conditions for millions of years, thereby fostering the accumulation and evolution of various species [19].

The northern and central parts of the country are primarily covered by different types of forests within the Congo Basin. The total land area is covered by 37% lowland rainforests, 19% dry forests, 4% swamp forests, and 2% mountain forests[20]. The northern and southern edges of the Congo Basin are covered by savanna-woodland mosaic ecosystems, whereas in the western highland areas, the ecosystems gradually transition from lowland forests at low elevations to volcanic and glacial zones at high elevations[20]. This geographical diversity provides a variety of ecological niches for different species to coexist, further enriching the biodiversity in DRC.

The DRC is home to over 15,000 species of plants, including trees such as mahogany, ebony, limba, wenge, and firbrous plants that are used for traditional medicine[18][21]. It is home to the plant cinchona, which is used as a source of medicines like quinine that treat malaria[21]. In the many ecoregions, there are many native plants and trees that are exploited by humans. The Gabon Ebony is one of many exploited endangered endemic species in the DRC. It is known for its durability and thickness. It has a dark black heartwood, making it a highly polished material used for furniture and musical instruments[22].

Animal Diversity

The DRC is rich in biodiversity, with 1,000 bird species, 900 butterfly species, 280 reptile species, and 400 mammal species [23]. The region is home to a range of endemic species, including but not limited to Okapi, Grauer's gorilla, Bonobo, and Congo peacock[24]. Although DRC has high wildlife diversity, many threats have been posted ttothe various species living within the country. Factors like poaching, pollution, deforestation, and soil erosion are significant threats to wildlife and habitats. Notably, Grauer's gorillas have seen a shocking 77% decline in numbers over the past two decades due to illegal hunting, civil unrest, and habitat loss from mining[24].

Primate Species

An Eastern Lowland Gorilla (Gorilla beringei graueri) living in the rainforest east of the DRC.
Eastern Lowland Gorilla (Gorilla Beringei Graueri)

Primarily inhabiting the tropical rainforests of eastern DRC, their numbers have declined from around 17,000 in the 1990s to less than 3,800 today, leading to their classification as an endangered species by the IUCN Red List. As the world's largest primate, adult males can weigh up to 450 kg [25].

Bonobo (Pan Paniscus)

Endemic to the DRC, Bonobos are found only in the Congo Basin within the DRC, with current populations estimated to be between 15,000 and 20,000. They bear a close resemblance to chimpanzees but are more slender with longer limbs and pinkish faces. They are one of the species most genetically similar to humans, making them highly valuable for conservation and research[26].

Okapi (Okapia Johnstoni)
The horse-like appearance with distinctive black and white stripes on the legs is the main characteristic of Okapi (Okapia johnstoni).

Okapi, also known as the forest giraffe, is found only in the tropical rainforests of northeastern DRC, with an estimated population of around 10,000. They are currently listed as an Endangered Species by the IUCN Red List. Okapis are distinctive for their horse-like body size with unique black and white striped legs[27].

Congo Peafowl (Afropavo Congensis)

Endemic to the DRC, Congo peafowls inhabit tropical rainforests at altitudes below 1200 meters. The exact wild population is currently unclear, but they have been classified as a Vulnerable species by the IUCN Red List. Male Congo Peafowls have long tails and vibrant blue-green feathers, while females are predominantly brown[28].

Indigenous Diversity

The Democratic Republic of the Congo is the third largest country in Africa and the second most ethnically diverse country in the world. With over 200 ethnic groups, it is the second largest diverse county[29]. There are four main ethnic groups in DRC: the Bantu, the Pygmy, the Sudanese and the Nilotic, which together account for 45% of the population[30]. The diversity of these peoples stems mainly from the Congo's ongoing conflict and its history of colonization. The diversity of the ethnic groups has also led to the persistence of tuts and unrest, as well as to chaotic administrative rule, which has indirectly allowed illegal activities to flourish[29].

Because the eastern Congo is rich in natural ores(like gold, coltan), raw materials for products, such as timber, coffee, these mines are often the scene of conflicts, illegal mining, wars, and degradation of forests, and the consequent impact of the activities of man on the surrounding environment. These mines are often the scene of conflicts, illegal mining, wars, forest degradation and other human activities that have a significant impact on the surrounding ecosystem [29] .

Human influences

History of Anthropogenic Impacts

Iron Age (500 B.C. to 15th Century)

In early history, the human impact on the environment in the Congo Basin was relatively limited. The early inhabitants primarily engaged in hunting, gathering, and small-scale agriculture, with their impact on ecosystems largely confined to local areas. Later, around 500 BC, the advent of iron tools improved the efficiency of agriculture and hunting. This period saw more significant effects on forests and ecosystems, particularly through the practice of slash-and-burn agriculture. This method led to extensive deforestation and loss of biodiversity, soil degradation, and increased carbon emissions and climate change due to the burning of vegetation.

The political structure of Belgian Congo

Environmental Impacts during the Colonial Period (Late 19th Century to 1960)

The colonial history of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) began on November 15, 1884, when fourteen major colonial powers convened in Berlin. The purpose of this meeting was to bring some order to the frantic scramble for land in Central Africa. Attracted by the commercial prospects yet deeply suspicious of one another, these imperial powers eventually agreed to grant sovereignty over the Congo Basin to Leopold II, King of Belgium, at that time a newly established small nation. Leopold II promised to combat the Afro-Arab slave trade, promote scientific research, and most importantly, maintain free trade. As a result, he suddenly became the private owner of the Congo Free State, an area equivalent in size to Western Europe. Over the next 23 years, he profited immensely from the extraction of copper, ivory, rubber, and other resources, until other international powers could no longer tolerate his escalating record of human rights abuses, forcing him to transfer sovereignty to Belgium. During this period, approximately five to eight million Congolese people died. Notably, Leopold II never visited Africa[31].

During this period, massive rubber extraction led to the destruction of primary forests, with land and water sources being polluted. Additionally, the demand for ivory increased hunting pressure on wildlife, resulting in a sharp decline in the populations of numerous species. To support resource extraction and export, the colonial government advanced the construction of roads, railways, and ports, further exacerbating the fragmentation of forests and the degradation and loss of habitats.

Environmental Impact in the Post-Independence Period (1960s-1990s)

The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) gained independence in 1960, ending Belgian colonial rule, but quickly plunged into political turmoil. The country's first Prime Minister, Patrice Lumumba, was assassinated, leading to a political crisis and internal conflicts. Subsequently, Joseph-Désiré Mobutu seized power through a coup and ruled for decades. Mobutu's regime was marked by corruption and authoritarianism, and the nation's economic and social conditions deteriorated. By the late 1990s, Mobutu was overthrown, but DRC continues to experience political instability and conflict to this day[32].

The prolonged political instability and conflict significantly impacted DRC's natural resources, especially in areas rich in minerals like gold and diamonds. This instability led to severe environmental degradation. Illegal logging and overgrazing exacerbated forest deforestation and land degradation. The conflict and instability also challenged the management of national parks and reserves, leading to increased illegal hunting and wildlife trafficking. Additionally, population growth and urbanization increased demands on land and natural resources, challenging the integrity of ecosystems [33].

Members of the Uganda People’s Defense Force position themselves in a town on the Ugandan side of the border with the Democratic Republic of the Congo.


From 1996 to 2003, DRC underwent two destructive wars, causing the formal economy to crumble and giving rise to social turmoil and heightened poverty[34]. During this period, expanded entry into once-isolated forest regions and the infiltration of local weaponry into the interior forests resulted in a surge in wildlife poaching and a rise in the number of small, scattered clearings. Certain animal populations experienced a decline, and in some cases, complete disappearance [35]. During these two periods of conflict, elephant populations were severely impacted, with approximately 3,434 elephants killed and 23 tons of ivory smuggled worldwide. The logging of forests and construction of roads during the wars caused significant habitat fragmentation and degradation, particularly affecting the survival of large animals like elephants that require extensive habitats[36].

Observed Threats to Biodiversity

Mining and Bushmeat Hunting

The rich deposits of gold, tin, coltan, and tungsten in Eastern DRC have drawn numerous mining companies, with artisanal and small-scale mining providing a significant livelihood for 14-16% of the local population (8-10 million people)[37][38]. The expanding mining sites have led to extensive clearcutting of Eastern forests, causing severe water and air pollution, land degradation, and habitat loss[38]

[39]. Mining in the DRC also enhances the bushmeat hunting industry, with many local people supplying bushmeat to miners for income. Highly valued targets include the critically endangered Grauer's gorilla (Gorilla Beringei Graueri) and the endangered eastern chimpanzee (Pan Troglodytes Schweinfurthii), along with forest elephants (Loxodonta Cyclotis), porcupines (Atherurus Africanus), Gambian rats (Cricetomys Gambianus), duikers (Cephalophus Spp.), and other endemically valuable species[38].

Satellite imagery of the deforestation in the triple border of Angola, Congo and DRC. The forest in dark green is mostly at Angola's Cabinda enclave, from image center to upper left. Deforestation is desinated with light green. It spread mostly along Chiloango River, crossing image NE to SW on Congo-DRC border, at image top, and Cabinda-DRC border below. Savanna-forest mosaic with extensive agriculture appears in orange and orangeish light green.


Most of the deforestation in the DRC happens around the Congo Basin. The Congo Basin is a basin that is home to many types of biodiversity and life, flowing through six countries: Cameroon, the Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Equatorial Guinea and Gabon. In the DRC, the Congo Basin spans around 107 million hectares, or about 67%. From 2010 to 2020, the DRC experienced the highest deforestation rate in the basin at 0.83% annually, equating to a loss of about 800,000 hectares of forest per year, primarily due to subsistence agriculture and illegal industrial logging[40].

Natives shipping kindling on the Congo River, Belgian Congo


One of the main drivers of deforestation in the DRC is small-scale agriculture, through shifting cultivation. Shifting cultivation is a form of agricultural method that clears land, cultivates it, and then abandons it to fallow and moves to another land to repeat the process. This form of agriculture has concerns in the DRC because farmers have access to extensive forested land and may use it to clear areas to establish agricultural fields, leading to deforestation. Another concern about this type of agriculture is soil fertility depletion due to land becoming limited and the fallow periods of the lands becoming too short, leading to another big problem of land degradation[41].

Logging operation in the Congo Basin.

Illegal Logging

Another driver of deforestation in the DRC is illegal logging activities. The Congo has the largest proportion of Congo Basin forests, a large part of which has logging concessions. But many years of war and conflict and irrational management have made illegal logging increasingly rampant. Owners of industrial timber concessions have bypassed the state and the law, and with the complicity of the government, nearly 90% of the area has been illegally logged, affecting more than 40,000 square kilometers, and drastically reducing the number of species in the areas in question, even to the point of extinction [42].


Congo Basin Blue Fund (CBBF)

The slash-and-burn agricultural practices prevalent among the inhabitants of the Congo Basin, which involve the burning of fields and forests, have led to severe land degradation and loss of biodiversity. To safeguard the essential ecosystem services provided by the forests, swamps, and rivers of the Congo Basin, critical for both human and wildlife, appropriate strategies and sufficient funding are necessary. The Congo Basin Blue Fund (CBBF), established by the Brazzaville Foundation, was conceptualized in 2015 and officially launched at the United Nations Climate Change Conference COP 22 in Marrakesh in 2016. It aims to bring well-being to the people while providing funding for projects adhering to the principles of the green economy (i.e., low-carbon, resource-efficient, and socially inclusive) and the blue economy (i.e., the sustainable use of marine, river, and wetland resources to promote economic growth, improve livelihoods, and create job opportunities, while maintaining the health of marine ecosystems) in member countries of the Congo Basin Climate Commission, including the Democratic Republic of Congo [31].

Currently, the CBBF has become one of the priority climate change initiatives under the African Union, strengthening cooperation among countries in the region and their collective response to climate change. The project's collaboration with international organizations such as the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) has enhanced its global impact and sustainability. So far, the CBBF has developed 24 sectoral plans comprising 254 bankable projects, with a total estimated cost of 6 billion US dollars, demonstrating significant contributions to regional economic development, social welfare, and the promotion of blue and green economies. The fund emphasizes these economies, continually reducing poverty in African countries like the Democratic Republic of Congo, and fostering investment in sustainable development sectors such as forest management, clean energy, and ecotourism, contributing to environmental protection and sustainable development in the Congo Basin and globally[43].

African Wildlife Foundation (AWF)

Orphaned gorilla and helper, at Eastern DRC

In collaboration with the Institut Congolais pour la Conservation de la Nature and the European Union, the African Wildlife Foundation (AWF) is devoted to improving communities in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). At the same time, the organization is actively working to safeguard the ecosystem from threats such as poaching, bushmeat hunting, and habitat fragmentation. They are one of the longest-running conservation groups in the DRC and in tandem with the government to spearhead both conservation initiatives (sustainable practices, anti-poaching, eco-monitoring) and infrastructure development (building radio stations, roads, and airports) [44]. While the foundation participates in a variety of conservation initiatives, one of the more notable projects is the ECOFAC6 program in collaboration with the European Union. The ECOFAC6 program seeks to conserve the Congo Basin rainforest in response to the UNFCCC's 27th Conference of Parties (COP27), in which the protection of the Congo Basin (one of the largest carbon sinks in the world) was deemed paramount in order to reach certain global climate targets[45].

Under the ECOFAC6 program, the AWF focuses its efforts on the conservation of wildlife biodiversity via poaching prevention. In this vain, the AWF trains eco-guards and provides them with anti-poaching equipment to aid them in protecting endangered areas and species. They also allow the creation of biological inventories, preserving the biological history of the Congo basin for future generations. Additionally, the AWF promotes the use of sustainable practices in both natural resource management and community development, while also allowing community involvement in important decisions. Finally, they have built a community radio station, which broadcasts to over 15,000 people over 10km, allowing communities to receive nature conservation updates and news about the security of nearby areas. While the exact ecological benefits of the program are still unclear, the social benefits of the ECOFAC6 program are immense. Due to the increased security in the area (due in large part to the eco-guards and the radio station), food security has gone up 65% since 2021, allowing nearby communities to thrive. Overall, in the over 5 years the program has been running, the initiative has not only preserved the ecological soundness of the basin but has even improved the livelihood of communities[45].

Congo Basin Forest Partnership (CBFP)

The Congo Basin Forest Partnership (CBFP) is an international initiative focused on preserving the ecological integrity of the Congo Basin forests[46]. It encompasses a broad coalition of 70 members, including governments, institutions, organizations, and private sector partners. Membership in CBFP requires endorsement of its framework, which outlines cooperation objectives, principles, and structures, but does not imply any direct financial commitment[47].

CBFP's framwork emphasizes several key aspects: It aims to support the vision of Central African Heads of State by focusing on biodiversity conservation and sustainable forest management[47]. The framework outlines cooperation principles that members commit to, including coordination, promoting well-being of local populations, climate change combat, and cross-sectoral work. It also involves national and regional programs, capacity-building, and effective participation of civil society and private sectors. The framework's structure includes the Annual Meeting of Parties, CBFP Colleges based on member types and roles, the CBFP Council with college representatives, and the CBFP Facilitation, which leads and represents the partnership. This non-binding, multi-stakeholder framework was adopted in November 2016, allowing for voluntary collaboration among a diverse set of members without necessitating direct financial commitments[48].

CBFP Governance Architecture

The CBFP has had significant facilitation shifts over the years. The Partnership was initially led by the United States from 2003 to 2004, followed by France from 2005 to 2007, Germany from 2008 to 2010, and then Canada from 2010 to 2012. The U.S. resumed this role from 2013 to 2015, followed by the European Union from 2016 to 2017, and then Belgium from 2018 to 2019. And in 2020, Germany regained the leading position, which lasted until 2023. Currently, France is facilitating the partnership, and its position will last until 2025[49][50]. CBFP members convene twice a year to align on key activities, address new issues, and exchange information with stakeholders and networks in the region[46].

The CBFP is pivotal in promoting effective natural resource management, ensuring the sustainability and conservation of one of the world's largest and most important rainforests. The growth in its membership, diverse facilitation, and the structured approach through different colleges indicate CBFP's commitment to inclusive and comprehensive engagement in the Congo Basin region. CBFP also has adaptability and responsiveness to the evolving challenges and opportunities in forest conservation and sustainable management. The regular organization of partner meetings underscores the partnership's dedication to continuous dialogue and collaboration among its diverse stakeholders. CBFP have built a robust and diverse international partnership, which is crucial for both conservation and social initiatives in the Congo Basin. The increase in members, varied facilitation, and regular meetings indicate that it is an active and evolving initiative[50].

Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS)

The Wildlife Conservation Society in Congo (WCS) has maintained a close collaboration with the Congolese Ministry of Forest Economy (MEF) and is a key conservation partner of the government. Simultaneously, WCS has established protective partnerships with private companies and relevant communities to manage logging concessions for specific parks[51]. WCS is primarily dedicated to implementing ecological monitoring, natural resource management, and related environmental education projects, tailoring wildlife conservation actions according to the specific context[51]. The conservation agreement between WCS and MEF encompasses the Nouabale-Ndoki National Park and Lac Télé Community Reserve, with the protection agreement for Nouabale-Ndoki National Park standing out as a significant highlight of WCS's initiatives [51]. Serving as WCS's flagship project, the Nouabale-Ndoki National Park (NNNP) in the northern lowland rainforest region of Congo is among the best examples of forest conservation projects in the Congo Basin[51].

In 2014, WCS and MEF signed a collaborative agreement to assist in the protection management of the park and provide financing for related projects, fostering cooperation with local community parks. Due to the park's pristine state, wildlife within the protected area is relatively less affected by human activities; however, this has also attracted numerous illegal poachers [51]. The logging areas near the protected zone, due to transportation upgrades, have facilitated poachers' access, exacerbating the poaching of elephants, antelopes, and monkeys [51]. To address this issue more effectively, WCS has equipped the park with corresponding devices, increased personnel for tracking poachers, and collaborated with the government to establish offices in nearby towns. The renovation of Makao-Linganga and Kabo airports facilitates real-time monitoring of the park and prompt responses to recent events[51].

With WCS's assistance, the populations of elephants and primates have steadily increased in recent years. In the realm of illegal poaching, the number of WCS rangers has multiplied sixfold. They are responsible for daily patrol activities, leading to the apprehension of over 60 offenders, the confiscation of 400 kilograms of ivory, and the successful rescue of 95 grey parrots[52]. More than 400 parrots have been rescued, and 1,000 parrots have been reintroduced into their natural habitat[53].

Inclusive Conservation Initiative (ICI)

The Inclusive Conservation Initiative (ICI) is a project that recognizes the importance of Indigenous peoples and local communities in guarding ecosystems and biodiversity on Earth. It was initiated in 2019 by the Global Environment Facility (GEF) to finance and better support the indigenous community to conserve biodiversity and achieve global environmental benefits[54]. The ICI project started in January 2022 and has since received $22.5 million in investment and over $90 million of expected co-financing[54]. The project includes 10 indigenous-led initiatives in nine geographic areas around the world, which include the Futa Mawiza Biocultural Territory (Argentina, Chile), Northern Tanzania, the Ewaso Ngiro River Basin (Kenya), the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the Annapurna Conservation Area (Nepal), Thailand, the Lau Seascape and Cook Islands, Ru K’ux Abya Yala (Guatemala, Panama), and the Southwest Amazon (Peru)[54].  ICI collaborates with indigenous peoples, local communities, regional and local organizations, governments, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), civil society, and various partners[55]. The overarching aim is to enhance their collective capabilities in the conservation of globally significant biodiversity and ecosystems in the respective geographical regions.

In the Democratic Republic of the Congo, ICI works with the Association Nationale d’Appui et de Promotion des Aires du Patrimoine Autochtone et Communautaire en République démocratique du Congo (ANAPAC)[55]. The ANAPAC organization works with the indigenous people in aboriginal and community heritage sites in the DRC to conserve. ANAPAC is actively identifying and documenting the existence of indigenous peoples and local communities operating across three distinct biocultural landscapes: the non-flooded forests in the east, the flooded forests in the west, and the drylands of eastern DRC[54]. The organization is also engaged in enhancing the capacity of indigenous peoples and local community institutions in the governance and management of natural resources.

The goal of the initiative in the DRC is to enhance the oversight of 220,715 hectares, involving the participation of 15,000 direct project stakeholders[55]. This initiative recognizes the importance of involving local communities and other relevant entities in decision-making processes, which ensures that diverse perspectives are considered in conservation efforts. The main challenges and threats the project highlights in the DRC are climate change, overexploitation of wildlife and natural resources, indigenous knowledge loss, overmining, integration into the market economy, Western culture influence, and recognition of traditional systems[55].


  1. Mpoyi, A. M., Nyamwoga, F. B., Kabamba, F. M., & Assembe-Mvondo, S. (2013). The context of REDD+ in the Democratic Republic of Congo: Drivers, agents and institutions (Vol. 94). Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR).
  2. 2.0 2.1 Devers, D. & Vande weghe, Jean & Billand, Alain & Cassagne, B. & Doucet, J. & Nasi, Robert & Trefon, T. & Tutin, C.. (2006). The forests of the Congo basin: state of the forests 2006.. Congo Basin Forest Partnership (CBFP).
  3. "Central Congolian lowland forests". World Wildlife Fund. Retrieved 27 September, 2023.
  4. "Northeastern Congolian lowland forests". World Wildlife Fund. Retrieved 27 September, 2023.
  5. "Eastern Congolian swamp forests." World Species.
  6. "Western Congolian swamp forests." World Species.
  7. 7.0 7.1 Martin, E., & Burgess, N. (n.d.). Eastern congolian swamp forests. One Earth.
  8. "Atlantic Equatorial coastal forests." World Species.
  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 9.3 Martin, E., & Burgess, N. (n.d.). Congolian coastal forests. One Earth.
  10. Atsri, H. K., Konko, Y., Cuni-Sanchez, A., Abotsi, K. E., & Kokou, K. (2018). "Changes in the West African forest-savanna mosaic, insights from central Togo." PLOS ONE, 13(10), e0203999.
  11. "Central Africa." World Wildlife Fund.
  12. 12.0 12.1 "Central Africa: Democratic Republic of the Congo and Angola." World Wildlife Fund. Retrieved 29 September, 2023.
  13. 13.0 13.1 13.2 "Central Zambezian Miombo woodlands." European Comission.
  14. 14.0 14.1 "Angolan Miombo woodlands." World Wildlife Fund.
  15. Huntley, B.J (1974). Outlines of wildlife conservation in Angola. Journal of the southern African Wildlife Management Association. 4: 157-166.
  16. The Editors of Encyclopædia Britannica (Nov 23, 2023). "Kisangani".
  17. Zepner, Karrasch, Wiemann, Bernard, Laura, Pierre, Felix, Lars (December 8, 2023). "Climate Charts".CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  18. 18.0 18.1 Democratic Republic of the Congo-Biodiversity. Interactive Country Fiches.
  19. Anthony, N. M., Atteke, C., Bruford, M. W., Dallmeier, F., Freedman, A., Hardy, O., Ibrahim, B., Jeffery, K. J., Johnson, M., Lahm, S. A., Lepengue, N., Lowenstein, J. H., Maisels, F., Mboumba, J., Mickala, P., Morgan, K., Ntie, S., Smith, T. B., Sullivan, J. P., . . . Gonder, M. K. (2015). Evolution and conservation of central african biodiversity: Priorities for future research and education in the congo basin and gulf of guinea. Biotropica, 47(1), 6-17.
  20. 20.0 20.1 Debroux, L., Hart, T., Kaimowitz, D., Karsenty, A., & Topa, G. (Eds.). (2007). Forests in Post Conflict Democratic Republic of Congo: Analysis of a Priority Agenda. Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR). ISBN 979-24-4665-6
  21. 21.0 21.1 Democratic Republic of the Congo. Encyclopedia Britannica.
  22. Chepkemoi, Joyce (April 25, 2017). "Native Plants Of The Democratic Republic Of The Congo (Congo-Kinshasa)".
  23. Biodiversity and Forest Management in the Congo Basin. Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity and Central African Forests Commission. 2009. ISBN 978-92-9225-152-9.
  24. 24.0 24.1 Democratic Republic of Congo-Conservation in a conflict zone. Fauna & Flora International.
  25. Plumptre, A. J., Kirkby, A., Spira, C., Kivono, J., Mitamba, G., Ngoy, E., Nishuli, R., Strindberg, S., Maisels, F., Buckland, S., Ormsby, L., & Kujirakwinja, D. (2021). Changes in grauer's gorilla (gorilla beringei graueri) and other primate populations in the Kahuzi‐Biega national park and oku community reserve, the heart of grauer's gorilla global range. American Journal of Primatology, 83(7), e23288-n/a.
  26. Kret, M. E., Jaasma, L., Bionda, T., & Wijnen, J. G. (2016). Bonobos (pan paniscus) show an attentional bias toward conspecifics’ emotions. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 113(14), 3761-3766.
  27. Lindsey, S. L., Green, M. N., & Bennett, C. L. (1999). The okapi: Mysterious animal of congo-zaire. University of Texas Press.
  28. Louette, M., & Mulotwa, E. (2013). The congo peafowl afropavo congensis, endemic and elusive bird of the democratic republic of the congo. Reference module in earth systems and environmental sciences. Elsevier Inc.
  29. 29.0 29.1 29.2 Karbo, Tony; Mutisi, Martha (2012). Ethnic Conflict. International and Cultural Psychology. Springer, Boston, MA. pp. 381–402. ISBN 978-1-4614-0448-4.
  30. "Indigenous peoples in the Democratic Republic of Congo." International Work Group for Indigenous Affairs. Retrieved 1 December 2023.
  31. 31.0 31.1 Woram, P. (2015). Are their chickens coming home to roost in ontario? why hudbay and yaiguaje may signal a new era of heightened liability for the international extractive industry. The International Lawyer, 49(2), 243-254.
  32. Autesserre, S. (2012). dangerous tales: Dominant narratives on the congo and their unintended consequences. African Affairs (London), 111(443), 202-222.
  33. Butsic, V., Baumann, M., Shortland, A., Walker, S., & Kuemmerle, T. (2015). Conservation and conflict in the democratic republic of congo: The impacts of warfare, mining, and protected areas on deforestation. Biological Conservation, 191, 266-273.
  34. Bavier, J. (2008). Congo war-driven crisis kills 45,000 a month: study. Reuters. 22 January 2008.
  35. Nackoney, J., Molinario, G., Potapov, P., Turubanova, S., Hansen, M. C., & Furuichi, T. (2014). Impacts of civil conflict on primary forest habitat in northern Democratic Republic of the Congo, 1990–2010. Biological Conservation, 170, 321-328.
  36. Beyers, R. L., Hart, J. A., Sinclair, A. R. E., Grossmann, F., Klinkenberg, B., & Dino, S. (2011). Resource wars and conflict ivory: The impact of civil conflict on elephants in the democratic republic of congo--the case of the okapi reserve. PLOS ONE, 6(11), e27129-e27129.
  37. Perks, R. (2012). How can public–private partnerships contribute to security and human rights policy and practice in the extractive industries? A case study of the democratic republic of congo (DRC). Resources Policy, 37(2), 251-260.
  38. 38.0 38.1 38.2 Spira, C., Kirkby, A., Kujirakwinja, D., & Plumptre, A. J. (2019). The socio-economics of artisanal mining and bushmeat hunting around protected areas: Kahuzi–Biega national park and itombwe nature reserve, eastern democratic republic of congo. Oryx, 53(1), 136-144.
  39. Butsic, V., Baumann, M., Shortland, A., Walker, S., & Kuemmerle, T. (2015). Conservation and conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo: The impacts of warfare, mining, and protected areas on deforestation. Biological conservation, 191, 266-273.
  40. Majambu, E., Tsayem Demaze, M., Sufo‐Kankeu, R., Sonwa, D. J., & Ongolo, S. (2023). The effects of policy discourse on the governance of deforestation and forest degradation reduction in the democratic republic of congo ( DRC ). Environmental Policy and Governance.
  41. Ickowitz, A., Slayback, D., Asanzi, P., & Nasi, R. (2015). Agriculture and deforestation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo: A synthesis of the current state of knowledge. Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR).
  42. Bomino Bosakaibo, Georges (March 2022). "International Policies and Illegal Logging Exploitation Sustaining Local Conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo". Springer, Singapore. 7.
  43. Preservation of the Congo Basin. Brazzaville Foundation. Retrieved 29 November, 2023
  44. "Democratic Republic of the Congo." African Wildlife Foundation. Accessed 30 November 2023.
  45. 45.0 45.1 Seay, Mike (2022). "COP27: Conserving the Congo Basin Rainforest to Benefit the Globe." African Wildlife Foundation.
  46. 46.0 46.1 "Congo Basin Forest Partnership (CBFP)." United States Agency for International Development (USAID). Retrieved 01 December 2023.
  47. 47.0 47.1 Cooperation Framework for Members of the Congo Basin Forest Partnership. Congo Basin Forest Partnership. Retrieved 1 December 2023.
  48. "CBFP's Governance Structure." Congo Basin Forest Partnership. Retrieved 1 Dec 2023.
  49. "Brief Note on the History of the CBFP." Congo Basin Forest Partnership. Retrieved 1 December 2023.
  50. 50.0 50.1 "CBFP Key Figures." Congo Basin Forest Partnership. Retrieved 1 December 2023.
  51. 51.0 51.1 51.2 51.3 51.4 51.5 51.6 "NOUABALE-NDOKI NATIONAL PARK".Wildlife Conservation Society. Retrieved 1 Dec 2023.
  52. Sautner, S., and Delaney, J. (2018). "Successful Anti-poaching Operation Leads to 5-Year Conviction for Three Poachers in Republic of Congo." Wildlife Conservation Society Newsroom. Retrieved 1 December 2023.
  53. "2019 Impact Report." Wildlife Conservation Society: 44. Retrieved 1 December 2023.
  54. 54.0 54.1 54.2 54.3 Inclusive Conservation Initiative (2023). "SPEARHEADING INCLUSIVE CONSERVATION, Phase One Report"]. Inclusive Conservation Initiative Phase One Report: 4, 5, 6. Retrieved 1 December 2023.
  55. 55.0 55.1 55.2 55.3 "Enhancing Indigenous Peoples' and Local Communities' efforts to steward land, waters, and natural resources to deliver Global Environmental Benefits". Inclusive Conservation Initiative. Retrieved 1 December 2023,