#DRCongo is home to Earth's second-largest tropical #rainforest. In the town of #Yangambi, some 2,000 kilometres from the capital Kinshasa, lies what was once the world's leading tropical research centre. Founded by the Belgians in the 1930s, it fell into neglect after independence in 1960 and was miraculously spared during the two Congo wars. It's now being rehabilitated with the support of scientists and donors from around the world. Our correspondents report.
All around the world, incredible people are working to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals. The #ProudToShare campaign by UNESCO’s Man and the Biosphere Programme (MAB) aims to share their stories and show how communities are making a difference in Biosphere Reserves.
Watch Yangambi Biosphere Reserve’s story to find out how a PhD student is carrying out research on Afromosia, an endangered tree species, showing how the biosphere reserve has been a field for various research projects in the past 30 years.
In this video, they share just of few of their many solutions for people and nature to thrive together. And explore the rest of the #ProudToShare video collection to meet many others across the UNESCO MAB World Network of Biosphere Reserves.
Helena Fatuma is the president of a local women’s association in Yanonge, which produces fish in small ponds to supply the local market. Due to overfishing in the Congo River, there is a pressing need for sustainable animal protein alternatives to feed the growing local population – a trend that the group of women identified and are trying to address. In 2019, they were selected by CIFOR-ICRAF to receive training on improved fish farming techniques and financial skills. Fatuma’s association is one of more than 60 small enterprises in the Yangambi landscape currently receiving support to develop sustainable businesses.
With the aim of contributing to economic development in DRC, Jean-Pierre Ngongo decided to study for a Ph.D. in sustainable forest management at the University of Kisangani. The support received allows him to conduct high-level research using remote sensing technologies to study tree population dynamics. He is one of more than 220 students that have graduated from this program with a master or doctoral degree since 2007.
Most households in the city of Kisangani use charcoal for cooking, which is supplied by neighboring forest communities, such as Yanonge. Alphonse Selemani is one of many local charcoal producers, an activity that helps him earn money to send his children to school. In 2020, he joined a producers’ association that is planting trees in agroforestry systems to support charcoal production. They are also making carbonization more efficient which allows them to reduce wood harvesting, as well as improving members’ commercialization skills to make their activities more profitable. Selemani is one of more than 300 local entrepreneurs in the Yangambi landscape currently receiving this type of support.
Josephine Balila, also known as “Maman Fil” works as a community mobilizer in Yangambi, DRC. She was recruited by CIFOR-ICRAF as part of a large-scale effort to restore degraded lands. Her job is to negotiate with the local communities to ensure everyone’s participation in tree planting activities. Thanks to the efforts of Maman Fil and the rest of the mobilization team, about 700,000 acacia and indigenous trees have been planted in agroforestry fields, and in a few years, they will be used to produce biomass energy. About 400 people are employed every plantation season in roles related to construction, team building, occupational safety, and care of seedlings.
At 19 years old, Darius Lisendja has been a tree-planting seasonal worker since 2019, part of forest landscape restoration efforts in the Yangambi landscape. With the money he has earned, he has already bought two milling machines to produce cassava and corn flour, both used to prepare a local food staple called fufu. This activity provides him an income for the rest of the year. Lisendja is an example of how the creation of job opportunities can stimulate the landscape’s local economy.
Yangambi, in the Democratic Republic of Congo, is home to the first eddy covariance tower in the Congo Basin since October 2020: Congoflux, a scientific structure that measures exchanges of greenhouse gases, such as carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide, between the atmosphere and the forest.
The data produced by Congoflux is essential to understand the contribution of the Congo Basin forest to climate change mitigation and thereby it will inform decision-making on forest conservation.
Film director: Thomas Freteur | Images: Thomas Freteur and Fiston Wasanga | Editing: Darek Tuba
Since 2007, CIFOR-ICRAF together with a dozen of partners are working in the Yangambi landscape to build forest management capacity, conduct applied research, and support local entrepreneurship and sustainable livelihoods.
How can we support sustainable woodfuel value chains across sub-Saharan Africa? CIFOR-ICRAF interventions in Kenya, Cameroon, Democratic Republic of Congo and Zambia are testing innovative approaches to secure clean biomass energy access for Africa’s growing population.