Republic of the Congo map

Republic of the Congo

The Republic of the Congo has a vast forest area estimated at 23.9 million hectares, or about 70% of the national territory. Although the rate of deforestation is currently very low at less than 0.1% per year, it is likely to accelerate sharply without proper planning and control.

An estimated forest loss of 23 850 ha/year was expected over the period 2015-2020 in connection with the planned development of agroindustry, and an additional 4 000 ha/year of unplanned deforestation, mainly caused by shifting agriculture. This trend could accelerate further in view of the growing international demand for certain agricultural commodities and the high availability of arable land in the Congo.

According to the REDD+ strategy (2016), the main drivers of deforestation and forest degradation are:

  • Agricultural expansion: shifting agriculture and agro-industry
  • Firewood collection
  • Forest exploitation, including illegal logging
  • Mining activities: industrial and artisanal
  • Urban and infrastructure expansion

The Republic of the Congo and the Central African Forest Initiative (CAFI) signed a Letter of Intent (LoI) in September 2019 to protect the country’s forests and accelerate the fight against climate change.

The LoI will be used to implement the investment plan of the national REDD+ strategy, and includes ambitious commitments for Congo to:

  • Develop a national land-use policy through a multi-sectoral and inclusive spatial planning process.
  • Direct agro-industrial plantations to savannah areas, following a 2018 ban on the allocation of large-scale logging concessions in forest areas.
  • Identify and avoid clearing High Carbon Stocks (HCS) and High Conservation Value  (HCV) forests.
  • Temporarily cap deforestation to 20 000 hectares per year.
  • Refrain from draining or drying peatland areas.

The Republic of the Congo is also a beneficiary of the World Bank’s Forest Carbon Partnership Facility and is a UN-REDD Programme partner country.

EU REDD Facility work in the Republic of the Congo

We work with Congolese institutions and their partners to support the development and implementation of legal frameworks dedicated to the sustainable and inclusive management of the country’s forest resources.

Our focus is on:

  • Clarifying and strengthening legal frameworks, especially regarding palm oil production but also other forest-risk commodities.
  • Enabling sustainable land-use investment and management by supporting the departmental level implementation of the 2014 land use planning Law.
Congo bassin rainforest

Clarifying and strengthening legal frameworks

In view of the importance of the country’s ongoing agricultural reform process, the EU REDD Facility is supporting the implementation of the Tropical Forest Alliance (TFA) Africa Palm Oil Initiative (APOI) action plan regarding clarified legal and sustainable frameworks.

In a rapidly changing agricultural sector with emerging challenges, we support the process of legality and sustainability indicator development for some forest-risk agricultural commodities (palm oil first but not only), based on agreed definitions, assess links to sustainability standards, explore options for monitoring compliance and performance.

The Terpercaya approach we developed in Indonesia focuses on legality and sustainability in agricultural commodity production at the district and province level.

Enabling sustainable land use

The EU REDD Facility works alongside the Ministry of Land-use Planning, Infrastructures and Road Maintenance (MATIER) in implementing the land use planning Law adopted in 2014.

To inform the design and future implementation of the CAFI programme on land-use planning, we support the development of a departmental land-use planning methodology, tested and validated at local level, with the involvement of all relevant stakeholders. We also assist in the assessment of the socioeconomic and environmental implications of various palm oil and other commodities development scenarios, using the Facility’s Land-use Planner.

EU REDD Facility actions in the Republic of the Congo

Facilitating subnational land-use planning in the Republic of the Congo

The Congolese state's spatial planning strategy is still very centralised and is organised around ministries which have some difficulty in coordinating their reciprocal interventions. In addition, there is a certain disparity in planning tools, the scope of application and linkages of which have not yet been clarified. There is therefore a need to bring together and decompartmentalise approaches in order to promote coordinated regional planning.
GTC oil palm plantation. Pool department, Republic of the CongoGTC

Supporting the TFA APOI Congolese platform

With the ambition of developing a sustainable palm oil sector, Congo committed in 2016 to the African Palm Oil Initiative (APOI), this flagship initiative of Tropical Forest Alliance (TFA) 2020. The TFA involves 10 countries in West and Central Africa, as well as key palm oil consumers, businesses, traders and producers, civil society, and groups representing local communities and indigenous peoples.

Devising independent monitoring of REDD+ in the Republic of the Congo

The EU REDD Facility works with non-state actors to define the scope and develop a methodology for independent monitoring of REDD+ (IM REDD) in the Republic of the Congo. Independent monitoring, or IM, is an audit-style assessment of compliance with legal and/or socioeconomic and environmental norms in the forest and land-use sectors. It is undertaken by independent third parties, with a view to constructively engage with public authorities and the private sector.