Rainforest map to assert rights

Published: Thursday 15 May 2008

More than 600 indigenous people in the Democratic Republic of Congo began mapping their rainforests on April 9 using gps technology. Their effort is to preserve about 2.4 million hectares of rainforest--home to some 100 communities--in the Inongo territory from logging companies.

The Congo has the world's second largest rainforest. The forests have suffered greatly during recent civil wars. Even after political stabilization, the forests are under new pressures of industrial logging. Since 2003, the government has allocated parts of Inongo territory to 11 logging companies and the indigenous people have been left out of the forest policy. "The maps will be a vital tool for the communities to negotiate with the government. It will allow them to demonstrate that they need to be taken into account when decisions are made about the forests they live in," says Cath Long, project director of the Rainforest Foundation uk, an ngo that trained master mappers to aid the mapping.

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