By Guillaume Lescuyer
Two hundred million hectares, and sixty million people.
That’s the size and feeding power of the forests of the Congo Basin – the second largest expanse of tropical forest in the world.
Yet this large resource area has often been a flash point for conflict, frequently because of poor forest management and illegal activity.
The problem is particularly serious in Central Africa’s concessions, where industrial timber exploitation has often been considered to negatively impact agriculture, hunting and small-scale logging.
Can allowing a forest concession to be used in multiple ways reduce or even resolve conflict and allow people to use the forest legally and peacefully?
Providing forest users with clear incentives to work together could reduce conflict and improve the management of Central Africa’s timber concessions, according to a new study.
Multiple-use forest management – using the forest in several ways (wood, gardens, bush meat, wild food, environmental uses, tourism) is seen by advocates as a more equitable and balanced use of resources among multiple users.
This form of management has been integrated into the forestry laws of Congo Basincountries since the mid-1990s, mainly through the management of timber concessions but its application has had limited success according to the study.