Under what conditions can REDD+ projects enable to help people to adapt to climate change for local populations in South Kivu? This is one of the questions the COBAM project team considered during a field visit in the Maiko-Tayna-Kahuzi-Biega landscape in Democratic Republic of Congo from 7 to 16 May. The hinterland of the Kahuzi-Biega National Park is one of the sites selected to conduct activities to demonstrate ways to decrease pressure on forest resources while reducing the vulnerability of local populations to climate disturbances. The project is being carried out by UEFA (Union for the emancipation of indigenous women), a Congolese NGO which has been working in DRC for many years on the human rights of indigenous peoples, protection of the environment, agriculture, and improving household incomes.
REDD+ (Reduction of emission from deforestation and forest degradation) needs the involvement of all the actors connected to forestry issues. REDD+ includes a compulsory component and an incentive component. This structure requires not only a certain autonomy for the local population in designing clear and enforceable rules but also for developing individual motivations. In the ethnic mosaic of the landscape – which is dominated by land conflicts, lack of economic alternatives and degradation of ecosystems – collective management of forests faces many obstacles. One of the main challenges for a local REDD+ project in a landscape is to demonstrate the personal interest for the individual actor to preserve the forest cover and to build up the capacity of the local communities.
A series of workshops at the provincial and local level involving decision makers and local representatives provided an opportunity for discussions on the vulnerability of the local population to climate change in relation to the management of their ecosystems and strategies to face such change. The CIFOR researchers ended their visit with a presentation of preliminary results followed by a discussion on obstacles to the implementation, sustainability and equity of a REDD+ project in the Kahuzi-Biega landscape.