Training, Research, Environment in the Tshopo (FORETS)
Democratic Republic of the Congo
Tools for learning
Protecting biodiversity and training future forest experts in the Congo
Kisangani is a city deep in the tropical forests of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), a 2,000-kilometer journey from the capital, Kinshasa, along the Congo River or via the occasional flight. Its university was the country’s only institution with forestry experts – which, 10 years ago, amounted to six people. Civil war and emigration had taken a major toll on the people and forests of the region.
Yet DRC has the second-largest swath of rainforests in the world, around 86 million hectares. In 2006, with the support of the European Union, CIFOR launched a project to both protect forest biodiversity and boost local expertise to carry out this task.
The centerpiece of this effort has been a series of activities that are now continuing with the ‘Training, Research, Environment in the Tshopo (province) project’, known as FORETS. It focuses on Yangambi, a 250,000 hectare UNESCO biosphere reserve, and on the University of Kisangani.
CIFOR has worked successfully with the University of Kisangani over the past 10 years to increase the number of students pursuing Masters or PhDs in biodiversity and forestry management. By the end of 2016, about 134 MSc and 76 PhD students had completed or were in the process of completing their curricula.
Clearing the way for a new generation of forest experts
Traditionally, few women enroll in science programs at Kisangani, but their numbers are growing. Consolate Kaswera Kyamakya completed her PhD during an earlier phase of the project, and spoke in 2012 about the challenge of pursuing science as a woman: “Here at the university there are not even five women professors. So I said to myself: ‘I have to try. I have to fight to get to this level’. If I am an example for other girls, this will be a good thing.”
Today, Professor Kaswera Kyamakya is leading a new cohort of men and women toward careers in forest management.
For me, this postgraduate program truly ‘closes the gap’. Young people are graduating at age 25 and already making enormous contributions to society. As far as women are concerned, my role is to encourage ambitious girls to work hard until graduation instead of marrying prematurely. I’m often asked how I reconcile motherhood and professional life: I do it with joy in order to show these young people that they can get there if they want to.
Consolate Kaswera Kyamakya, Associate Professor, Faculty of Sciences, University of Kisangani
The fourth phase of the project is underway, with a new intake of MSc and PhD students and new research projects in and around the Yangambi Reserve.
FORETS project goals
Promote exceptional biodiversity of Yangambi Reserve.
Boost sustainable agriculture, forestry and ecosystem services around the Reserve.
Reduce deforestation in and around the Yangambi Reserve.
Increase carbon storage through reforestation, protection and improved management.
Communication and outreach for greater impact
FORETS emphasizes communication, aiming for audiences ranging from local people in the Yangambi area to NGOs, national policy-makers and international donors. Working in French and English, outreach elements include:
Radio programming, in partnership with local radio stations;
Media engagement (cultivating Green Journalists Network contacts, regional and international);
Newsletters to highlight project progress and news, and emphasizing increased visibility of Congolese institutions.
The world is gearing up for action on climate change and sustainable
2016, CIFOR research showed how putting landscapes and forests at the fore can
promote integrated action with better outcomes for human well-being, equity and
Stepping up to the new climate and development agenda
Our new ten-year strategy evolved from a deep understanding of the many ways
contributes to sustainable development. Our work is grounded by a three-pillar approach that
spans six thematic work areas, which are aligned with the UN’s 17 Sustainable Development
CIFOR and the SDGs
FOREST & HUMAN WELL-BEING
SUSTAINABLE LANDSCAPES & FOOD
EQUAL OPPORTUNITIES, GENDER, JUSTICE & TENURE
CLIMATE CHANGE, ENERGY & LCD
VALUE CHAINS, FINANCE & INVESTMENTS
FOREST MANAGEMENT & RESTORATION
GLOBAL LANDSCAPES FORUM
CIFOR by the numbers
Pillar 1. Research for impact
204 Journal articles: 60% in Open Access journals
Visit through Google Books:
25% increase from 2015
Pillar 2. Capacity development
Pillar 3. Outreach and engagement
Memoranda of understanding
Letters of agreement
with strong gender focus
events organized or supported, with
times on Forests News
times on Forests News
CIFOR’s contribution to the global policy dialogue gained more international recognition this year.
out of 100 top Climate Think Tanks
International Center for Climate Governance
out of 95 top Environment Policy Think Tanks
Think Tanks and Civil Societies Program: Global Go To Think Tank Index Report
CIFOR and its partners contribute to the following global processes, frameworks, panels and conventions:
CIFOR launched a set of key performance indicators in 2016 to chart our impact through research, capacity development and engagement, and to measure our operational performance.
Where we work
Climate change, energy and low carbon development
Sustainable landscapes & food
Forest management & restoration
Forest and human well-being
Equal opportunities, gender, justice and tenure
Value chains, finance and investments
Gender across CIFOR’s work
CIFOR takes a rights-based approach to gender equality. Beyond the simple recognition that failing to understand local-level gender dynamics can skew research findings, we ground our work in the idea that all humans deserve an equal opportunity to thrive. Understanding gender dynamics is both a focus of specific research projects and a key aspect in all of CIFOR’s activities.
Things are still framed in terms of women as victims of climate change. This whole stereotyping needs to shift, and we should really focus on gender quality and women's' empowerment as a goal in their own right, not because victims need to be saved
Under the Paris Agreement, countries are ramping up to meet their climate change commitments while also moving toward their Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) targets. CIFOR is working at the nexus of climate change, energy and low-carbon development to deliver integrated ecological, social and economic information to policy makers and practitioner communities in these countries. We also support, with information, analysis and tools, actors working in the international climate policy arena.
Forest communities have an intimate understanding of their natural resources and can manage them effectively – if they have the rights to their land and gain benefit from forests and trees. Women hold much of this knowledge and, when they are free to make key decisions, can help transform the physical and cultural landscape. And when land and forest tenure laws are clear, local and international investors will help sustainable forest-based enterprises grow.
CIFOR is working to help countries meet their restoration targets, as momentum builds for the Bonn Challenge, the World Resources Institute Initiative 20×20 and other global plans to restore millions of hectares of forest by 2020. Focusing on two main areas, diversified forest management and forest landscape restoration, this work aims to address factors that help or hinder rural people’s access to forest resources and to find more equitable ways to manage forests for better productivity.
Tens of millions of rural households in tropical countries gain significant income, food, fuel and shelter from forests. But this fact is often underappreciated or ignored by strict conservation approaches and poverty-reduction policies. This can lead to missed opportunities and unintended consequences that further drive forest loss and undercut rural livelihoods. A better understanding of how forests contribute to human well-being will give policy makers the evidence base they need to make effective decisions that support both forests and people.
One billion people worldwide rely to varying degrees on forests for food and income. Wild meat and freshwater fish are essential to the diets of some vulnerable rural communities. And both subsistence and industrial farming systems depend on trees and forests for water and climate regulation, pollination and pest control. As competition for land grows, countries are looking for strategies to lower poverty while building environmental resilience. Landscape approaches have the potential to resolve local challenges and meet national commitments.
The current push by private sector companies, governments and financial services providers to promote and invest in activities that contribute to sustainable development and reduce pressures on forests is driving a transformation in how timber, palm oil, soy, sugar and beef are produced. CIFOR aims to facilitate innovations in public policy, business models, private investments and finance to stimulate the sustainable and inclusive supply of timber from natural and planted forests, enhance sustainable production of high-value tree crops and reduce the impacts of agricultural expansion in forests.
CIFOR advances human well-being, equity and environmental integrity by conducting innovative research, developing partners’ capacity, and actively engaging in dialogue with all stakeholders to inform policies and practices that affect forests and people. CIFOR is a CGIAR Research Center, and leads the CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry (FTA). Our headquarters are in Bogor, Indonesia, with offices in Nairobi, Kenya, Yaounde, Cameroon, and Lima, Peru.
CIFOR leads the CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry
CIFOR is currently a member of these CGIAR Research Programs:
CIFOR’s work is possible thanks to the financial support of our Funding Partners and the collaboration
of our Strategic Partners. We work closely with a range of local and international organizations
and institutions to deliver research projects with the greatest potential impact.