The CARPE program was first authorized by the U.S. Government in 1995 and represents a multi-year, long-term regional initiative divided into three strategic phases. CARPE is currently in its third phase, which will run through 2020.
Phase I of CARPE (1995-2002) centered on gathering information on the Central African forest ecosystem, while simultaneously building regional human resources and institutional capacity.
The program began in four countries: the Central African Republic, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, and the Republic of Congo. Five additional countries were added to the CARPE program before the end of Phase I: Burundi, Cameroon, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Rwanda, and Sao Tome & Principe.
In 1997, there were no USAID missions in Congo Basin countries and the decision was made to work directly through partner organizations already operating in the region. The first set of ten partners included: the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS); the World Resources Institute (WRI); World Wildlife Fund (WWF); World Learning (later succeeded by Innovative Resource Management (IRM)); the U.S. Forest Service (USFS); the U.S. Peace Corps; and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) in collaboration with the Universities of Virginia and Maryland. The tenth partner‚ the Biodiversity Support Program (BSP), a USAID-funded consortium of the WWF‚ the Nature Conservancy‚ and WRI‚ handled program management until December 2001.
USAID/CARPE entered into cooperative agreements with four additional organizations in 2000: the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN); Conservation International (CI); the African Wildlife Foundation (AWF); and established an interagency agreement with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS).
In January 2003, CARPE began its second strategic phase (CARPE II) to support the Congo Basin Forest Partnership (CBFP), initially a 30-member “Type II Voluntary Partnership” under the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Commission framework. The CBFP was launched at the 2002 World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg, South Africa. At the summit, the U.S. Government committed $53 million to finance the CBFP's efforts to support sustainable forestry, biodiversity conservation, and poverty alleviation. The government identified USAID/CARPE as the principal mechanism through which these funds would be dispersed.
CARPE II (2003-2012) was a substantially scaled-up operational phase comprising the nine aforementioned countries. During its second phase the management of CARPE shifted from Washington, D.C. to the continent. USAID established a separate and distinct Operating Unit – USAID/Central Africa Regional based in Kinshasa, under the responsibility of the USAID/DRC Mission Director. The objective of CARPE II was to reduce the rate of deforestation, forest degradation, and biodiversity loss in the Congo Basin through increased regional, national, and local capacity for natural resource management.
CARPE II was specifically concerned with supporting sustainable natural resource management in the field, improving environmental governance, and strengthening natural resource monitoring capacity in Central Africa. The program implemented systematic land use planning to support forest and biodiversity conservation needs, and established partnerships and mechanisms to create sustainable conservation management systems.
In 2010, CARPE II evolved from the initial focus on forest and biodiversity conservation to become the USG’s main program in Africa for climate change mitigation.
From 2003-2012, USAID/CARPE dispersed an average of $15 million per year to promote CBFP’s objectives in the region and in support of the following U.S. Government administrative and legislative priorities: the Congo Basin Forest Partnership Presidential Initiative, the Global Development Alliance, the Presidential Initiative Against Illegal Logging, the President’s Global Climate Change Initiative, the Biodiversity Legislative "earmark" FAA Section 118, and the Tropical Forestry Legislative "earmark" FAA Section 119. In addition to the funds provided through the U.S. Government, CARPE requires matching funds from its primary partners leveraging CARPE’s impact by more than 50 percent.
CARPE began the third phase (CARPE III) in 2012 under a new Regional Development Cooperative Strategy(2012-2020), approved by USAID’s Bureau for Africa in June 2011. The objective of CARPE III is to maintain the ecological integrity of the humid forest ecosystem of the Congo Basin and to contribute to the goal of accelerating Central Africa’s transition to climate-resilient, low-emissions development through sustainable management of biodiverse forests. In CARPE III, USAID focused its resources to increase opportunity for impact. USAID-funded activities are currently implemented primarily in two countries – Republic of Congo and the Democratic Republic of Congo – and eight landscapes.
In 2013, USAID and the Government of Norway entered into a significant partnership, coordinating efforts and combining the strengths of two of the largest forest conservation donors.
USAID will achieve its objective under CARPE III through implementation of two distinct but interdependent projects, which are the Central Africa Forest Ecosystems Conservation (CAFEC) and the Environmental Monitoring and Policy Support (EMAPS). CAFEC focuses on sustainable forest management, wildlife conservation and REDD+ activities in nine carbon rich, biologically sensitive, and diverse natural forest landscapes. EMAPS improves national and regional environmental policies and regulations, builds capacity of public and private institutions to support conservation of forest and biodiversity, and boosts the quality and scope of conservation management, climate change mitigation efforts, and data collection.
Building on the investments, results, and lessons learned from the first two phases, activities under CARPE III place a strong emphasis on institutionalizing the conservation monitoring and management approaches developed in CARPE II through individual, organizational, and systems capacity building to ensure that the ecological integrity of the humid forest ecosystem of the Congo Basin is sustained.