WASHINGTON DC, April 2, 2009 - The World Bank today approved $70 million in grants to increase the capacity of the government and other stakeholders to manage forests sustainably and equitably for multiple uses in pilot areas of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). The International Development Association (IDA) is providing a $64 million grant and a further $6 million is being provided by the Global Environment Facility (GEF).
This project is the main vehicle through which the World Bank will support the DRC’s National Forest and Nature Conservation Program, a $250 million multi-donor program developed by the government and supported by a coalition of Donors. Those include the EU, the USA, the UK, Belgium, France, Germany, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Norway, Spain, Sweden, the African Development Bank, GEF/UNDP and UNEP as well as by efforts financed through voluntary contributions to national and international NGOs.
DRC forests represent the second largest bloc of tropical forest in the world, and are critical to the livelihood of about 40 million Congolese, providing food, medicine, domestic energy, building materials and income. The forests play a vital role in regulating the global environment and harbor much unique biodiversity. Five natural World Heritage Sites are in DRC, more than the rest of Africa combined.
“The Government is to be commended for the actions taken so far, which will improve the ways forest resources are accessed and managed, their benefits shared, and the customary rights of local and indigenous population preserved.” said Marie Françoise Marie-Nelly, World Bank Director for the Democratic Republic of Congo and the Republic of Congo. “This project helps create a foundation for sustainability and continued action to manage forests, protect wildlife and encourage trust and collaboration among the State administration, the private sector and rural and indigenous communities.”
The project follows the completion of a thorough legal review of forest logging contracts in the country, which led to the cancellation of the vast majority of them, and opened the path to a more transparent, participatory and sustainable use of forest resources. It has three main components: strengthening the government’s institutional capacity to manage forests and pursue institutional reforms, develop community participation in forest management and implementing the project’s environmental, social and safeguard plans, and developing the government’s ability to manage protected areas (specifically rehabilitation of the Maiko National Park).
The main project areas are located in the Equator, Bandundu and Oriental Provinces, encompass the highest concentration of rainforests in DRC, and cover a wide range of issues and challenges DRC faces nationally and regionally related to the managing and conserving its forests. In these areas, the Government will work with national and international NGOs and local communities to manage forest lands sustainably, according to shared principles and in compliance with prevailing regulations, testing innovative conservation, production and community-based forest management models that benefit forest and indigenous populations, local and national economies and the global environment.
“This program is an integral part of the GEF’s long-term strategy to bolster sustainable forest management practices in a region that is a unique reservoir of plant and animal diversity,”’ said Monique Barbut, CEO and Chairperson of the GEF. “We support this country-driven approach that will help secure carbon assets in a way that reduces greenhouse gas emissions and generates green jobs.”
Consultations on this project started in 2007, and involved information sessions in all provinces and in-depth consultations in the Orientale, Bandundu and Equator Provinces where the project will concentrate. All consultations were carried out in collaboration with networks or national NGOs. Specific sessions were held with the population at large and with indigenous (Pygmy) populations.
For more information visit http://www.worldbank.org/afr/forestry
In Kinshasa: Louise Engulu (+243) 994 90153226444
In Washington DC: Rachel McColgan-Arnold
(202) 458 5299
For the GEF: Maureen Lorenzetti in DC
(202) 473 8131