photo credit: Filip Agoo
Over 740,000 acres of rainforest along the west side of Lake Mai Ndombe in western DRC was zoned for commercial timber extraction that is highly valued by logging companies. The forest is home to chimpanzees, bonobos and forest elephants, and includes some of the most important wetlands in the world. It is also home to over 180,000 people. These logging companies largely ignored the rights and health of the community and the wildlife, resulting in severe environmental damage. It brought little or no economic benefit to the local people and drove already threatened wildlife populations down. In 2008, following a governmental revision of the DRC National Forest Code, 91 of 156 logging contracts were suspended in an effort to address corruption in the sector.
In partnership with Era Ecosystems Services, Wildlife Works implemented the REDD+ conservation strategy of using carbon revenues to prevent the logging contracts to be reinstated and establish sustainable development for the local community.
Since the project launch in 2011, logging concessions have not been regranted and with the aid of reforestation programs, the deforested areas have had a chance to regenerate, bringing back biodiversity and the ability for wildlife to thrive. Agroforestry nurseries and sustainable farming crops and techniques have been introduced to relieve deforestation pressure on the local community. The new cassava varieties and sustainable farms have 10 times higher than the yield of conventional varieties. Additionally, the project established 10 demonstration gardens and built 5 fish ponds: People in the project area have historically relied on fish production from Lake Mai Ndombe, but with the lake substantially depleted from overfishing, sustainable fish farming combined with high-yielding cassava will help improve community health and nutrition while alleviating the pressure on the forest and the lake.
Most requested by the community is education. The project has built 10 schools towards the goal of 28 schools that will impact over 8,000 students. A mobile medical clinic was established and treats thousands of patients who previously had little or no access to health care.
Before the project began, leopards, elephants, and buffalos had not been seen in the project area since the 1970s. 2020 appears to have been a turning point for wildlife in the project area: While elephants have been documented since the start of the project, 2020 marked the first known return of the buffalo and the leopard, while the elephant population in the project area has split into 3 different groups, a result of a growing population and the emergence on more dominant male animals in the group.
As with all of our conservation projects, our goals fall under three main categories.
• Reduce CO2 emissions within the project area by stopping planned legal and illegal forest degradation (logging).
• Reduce local destructive forest pathways by providing alternatives to unsustainable slash and burn agriculture.
• Retain intact forest habitat and ecosystem integrity at the landscape level for native flora and fauna.
• Raise local and outside awareness of the area’s intrinsic biodiversity value through education and outreach.
• Protect rare and ecologically valuable species.
• Provide access to and increase quality of education.
• Improve land-tenure status through participatory mapping.
• Promote sustainable agriculture, livestock management and fishing.
• Provide training in, and demonstrate improved agricultural techniques to simultaneously enhance food security, promote all-around nutrition and conserve natural resources.
• Reduce poverty by increasing access to markets, improving infrastructure and creating jobs.
• Improve access to, and quality of, health and medical response systems.
The D.R.C. REDD+ project covers 750,000 acres of threatened forest. An average of 3.5 million tons of CO2e reductions per year is achieved through the conservation management of two former logging concessions.
Sustainable agriculture, fishing and livestock have been introduced to relieve deforestation pressure on the local community.
The health, education and social programs co-created with our locally hired employees have improved the well-being of thousands of residents.
Nearly 3,000 people so far have received health services from the various medical programs we have been able to fund and support. These include the mobile medical clinic, vaccination services, emergency medical response system, HIV testing and health education workshops.
Over 8,500 students have received learning kits and school supplies distributed to over 51 villages.
More than 3,000 students are now attending new schools built.
320 women and girls reported improved access and quality of education.
We have employed nearly 400 local people for project activities and 29 of those are women in an area with no job opportunity outside of subsistence farming.
Additionally, the various social programs co-developed with our locally hired employees create job opportunities within the community. As a result, nearly 600 families have reported improved livelihoods and income generated as a result of our programs.
The Mai Ndombe REDD+ project protects 2 endangered species: the Bonobo and Forest Elephant. For years these species was being driven away by the deforestation activities. Since starting our conservation project, we have seen more wildlife return.
The current population of the endangered Bonobo (only found in the Congo Basin) is estimated between 30,000 - 50,000. About 20 Bonobos live in our protection area.
The current population of the Forest Elephant (only found in the Congo Basin) is estimated at 100,000. Forest Elephants that live in our project area have grown from 30 to 100 as of 2021.
Technical Project Documents
Project verification is renewed on average every year. Below is the latest Monitoring & Implementation Report in addition to the Project Documents.
The Mai Ndombe REDD+ Project
Mai Ndombe REDD+
Monitoring & Implementation Reports
The Mai Ndombe REDD+ Project PDD
Project Design Document
Published October, 2012
The Mai Ndombe REDD+ Project PD
VCS Project Description
Published November, 2012
Forest Carbon Partnership DRC Subnational Program