Green Economy

Growing a Green Economy in the Democratic Republic of the Congo
Projet Equateur – “Zamba Malamu – The Forest is Good”

Projet Equateur utilizes novel community-based approaches to combat deforestation and to develop and test models for a “Green Economy.”

After the Amazon, the Congo Basin comprises the second largest forest on Earth. It contains one of the largest terrestrial storehouses of carbon and is home to a vast rural population and diverse species, including bonobos, forest elephants and leopards. The great bulk of this tropical forest lies within the borders of the fledgling Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). International agriculture and mining interests, charcoal production, subsistence farming, and the bush meat trade all threaten increasingly larger swaths of virgin forest.

Named after the DRC province where the project is located, Projet Equateur aims to regenerate forests, improve livelihoods and promote economic development in the DRC.

Ultimately, forests will remain standing only when there are economic alternatives to deforestation catalyzed by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation (REDD)+ program incentives. Projet Equateur works with community leaders, partners and innovators to identify forest-friendly economic opportunities, such as agroforestry and agricultural production and marketing techniques, high-efficiency charcoal production, and end-user technologies, such as fuel efficient stoves.

Projet Equateur works to unravel the social and economic costs of land management choices, such as conservation, expanding agriculture or charcoal production, on both the local and national level to identify the winners and losers for each land management scenario. The program works with community groups to evaluate local land management capacities.

Project Manager Melaine Kermarc and former Communication Officer Joseph Zambo participated in the UNFCCC Conference of the Parties (COP) 20 in Lima, Peru, where they presented Projet Equateur’s early findings.

Building upon local knowledge of forest capital, Projet Equateur teams work within communities to build and reinforce their institutions and train local people in forest monitoring and land use management techniques in advance of REDD+ investments. The team is currently working with partners in the DRC on new technologies, such as improved cook stoves and alternative agroforestry projects.

The project is a collaborative effort between WHRC and local and national agencies to understand the economic and social role of forests within the rural communities of Mbandaka and Gemena. Congo Basin Forest Fund (CBFF), The African Development Bank and the Ministère de l’Environnement, Conservation de la Nature and Tourisme, le Jardin Botanique d’Eala.


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