Transformative change to reduce deforestation in DRC
In the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), national food security and forest conservation have competed for decades, with the former prevailing. But with rapid growth in population and agricultural production predicted, concern about forest loss is mounting.
For three decades, variations on the ‘integrated conservation and development’ (ICD) approach have dominated forest conservation. ICD presents as a win-win but its conservation goals typically reflect the national and global priorities of powerful actors – and it has been tried in thousands of conservation sites across the world with limited success.
Current approaches to forest conservation in DRC, including one which seeks to displace, replace and intensify the agricultural system (known as DRI), look like more of the same but on a larger scale. Our analysis shows DRI to be unrealistic (relying on much stronger governance than exists) and unethical (having major negative social impacts on some of the poorest people).
This backgrounder argues that a ‘trade-off management’ approach that effectively engages a wider range of stakeholders including the smallholder farmers most reliant on the land, and considers food production a legitimate goal alongside conservation, could pave the way towards transformative change that reduces deforestation.
PDF updated November 2019