Community evaluation of forest governance in the DRC

The DRC has over 100 million hectares of forest and has significant potential to benefit from these forests through REDD+ if they are managed effectively. The research shows that building the right capacity, consulting and accessing the needs of the community, and building long-term projects and partnerships are key success factors for improving forest governance.

Forests are vital ecosystems that provide valuable ecosystem services and are crucial for achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. Global tropical primary forest loss and degradation in less developed countries has negative consequences for the livelihoods and food security of forest-dependent communities.

Protecting primary forests is essential for addressing the global climate change and biodiversity crises. Good governance is essential for effective and sustainable forest management and has seen an increase in focus on community-based forest governance. REDD+ (reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation) is a climate mitigation mechanism that pays developing countries for reducing carbon emissions through reducing deforestation and forest degradation, conserving forests and managing forests sustainably.

A well-designed REDD+ mechanism, with good governance and effective institutional frameworks, can support sustainable development. However, most REDD+ countries have low to moderate administrative capacity and governance structures. The DRC has approximately 152 million hectares of dense tropical forest, with the majority considered primary forest. These forests are home to considerable biodiversity and provide valuable ecosystem services, including water regulation services for the Congo river. The forests also provide valuable non-timber forest products for the local population and have the potential to be the basis of a green economy.

From a global perspective, the forests remove 337 MtCO₂e/year between 2001 and 2020. Although the DRC has a relatively low deforestation rate, the total area of deforestation is large, losing 15.9 Mha of tree cover between 2001 and 2020. This deforestation is largely due to subsistence agriculture, but improving agricultural productivity and food security has the potential to reduce it. However, there is a risk that development will bring with it increased risk of deforestation.

Article authors

Ed Morgan

Dr Ed Morgan is a Research Fellow at the Cities Research Institute, Griffith University. He is developing landscape planning for ecosystem-based climate change adaptation and forest protection.
Dr Glenn Bush

Glenn Bush

Dr. Glenn Bush is an environmental economist driven by a desire to find equitable resolutions to the long-standing conflict between human development and environmental conservation.

Joseph Zambo

Joseph is a field researcher for Woodwell Climate Research Center based in Democratic Republic of Congo.

Additional authors

Tek Mareseni


Morgan, E. A., Bush, G., Mandea, J. Z., & Maraseni, T. (2023). Community evaluation of forest and REDD+ governance quality in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Journal of Environmental Management, 328, 116891.

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