DRC: Communities supporting gorillas & forests

Half of Africa’s tropical forests sit within the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). These forests are home to a number of species found nowhere else in the world, including the Grauer’s gorilla and the Congolese peacock. An impressive 17 billion metric tons of carbon is held in these forests, that’s approximately 8% of the world’s total forest store.

In a bid to protect these vast and valuable forests, this project is supporting the implementation of two community-led reserves (REGOLU – Réserve de Gorilles de Lubutu and REGOMUKI – Réserve de Gorilles de Mukingiti & Kingombe). The project trains and equips members of the communities living in and around the forests to become the reserves’ bio-monitoring teams. These teams patrol the forests monitoring the condition of the forests and the population/health of the animals living there. They also monitor illegal activity. In 2016 alone, they dismantled 1,612 snares, destroyed 129 illegal camps and 100 smokehouses. This plays a vital role in conserving the forests and equally, generates income for the extremely impoverished communities.

As so many forest-dwelling communities depend on these forests for their livelihoods, it is crucial to raise awareness on the importance of sustainable livelihoods and forest conservation. The project is supporting this by delivering workshops to schools, asking the question ‘why do we conserve nature?’ Over 200 school children have been reached through these workshops so far, ensuring understanding on this topic from an early age.

Fuel efficient stoves have been built in family homes all around the reserves – 225 to date. These stoves empower the community and enable them to become more sustainable. Previously, families would have used, on average, 4 baskets of fire wood in 2.5 weeks, the same amount will now last 4 weeks. This directly relieves the pressure on the forest to provide. The stoves serve the added bonuses of emitting less harmful smoke (reducing illnesses) and damaging less cooking pots (freeing up income). Equally, it means the women of the villages don’t have to spend so much time fetching firewood, or carrying such heavy loads, so instead they can concentrate on tending their fields or household activities.



• Communities living in extreme poverty
• Agricultural expansion and livestock grazing
• Poor agricultural practices (slash and burn) followed by poor crop rotation
• Mining
• Illegal bush-meat trade
• Commercial logging
• Deforestation and poaching means a risk of extinction for many endemic species
• Increase in unsustainable trade in natural resource products


• 225 energy efficient stoves has decreased the demand for firewood
• 3 sustainable livelihoods projects will increase household income and decrease the dependence on the forest reserves
• Bio-monitoring teams patrolling the reserves dismantled 1,612 snares and destroyed 129 illegal camps in 2016 alone
• Micro credit scheme piloted, funding sustainable livelihood activities
• 240 children reached in awareness raising workshops on the topic of forest conservation