Rainforest Foundation UK launches new interactive website on the human impacts of protected areas

 

CEESP NEWS - By Rainforest Foundation UK

The Rainforest Foundation UK has launched Rainforest Parks and People – an interactive website aimed at increasing the transparency and accountability of conservation projects across the Congo Basin, and showing how such projects have impacted on local people. IUCN members and all those interested are invited to contribute to this effort.

 

Rainforest Parks and People website Photo: The Rainforest Foundation UK

© The Rainforest Foundation UK

The Rainforest Foundation UK (RFUK) has launched Rainforest Parks and People – an interactive website aimed at increasing the transparency and accountability of conservation projects across the Congo Basin rainforests, and showing how such projects have impacted on local people.

The aim is to continuously update Rainforest Parks and People as new information becomes available. RFUK is inviting those working in forest conservation, and indeed those affected by protected areas, to contribute where possible.

Drawing on publicly available information as well as RFUK’s own field research, Rainforest Parks and People so far features 34 protected areas across the rainforests of Gabon, Cameroon, the Democratic Republic of Congo, the Republic of Congo and the Central African Republic.

The website compiles reports of displacement of people by most of the protected areas, and, most alarmingly, a high incidence of conflicts and allegations of human rights abuses at the hands of park rangers. Such abuses include extortion, beatings, extra-judicial killings and even rape.

Rainforest Parks and People also identifies whether communities were consulted before the creation of the protected area, whether they have a voice in managing it, and whether they have benefited from it economically.

Rainforest Parks and People builds on a report published by RFUK in 2016, which argued that the current model of nature conservation in Central Africa is not only unjust to poor and marginalised local communities, but is also jeopardising conservation efforts by alienating the people who are best placed to protect biodiversity.

Importantly, the database also includes information on protected areas’ funding sources, where available.

According to Simon Counsell, RFUK Executive Director, “Rainforest Parks and People shows clearly that abuses of local people by conservation programmes is a widespread, systemic problem in Africa’s rainforests. There is a need for much greater transparency in who is funding such programmes, for these funders to call conservation agencies to account for their impacts on local people, and to ensure that abuses are eliminated”.

Rainforest Parks and People films series

RFUK is also launching a series of short films on this issue with testimony from communities and civil society leaders in the Congo Basin. Read our first blog and watch the first film here.

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