Trees of life: Stories of struggle, courage and hope in the Congo Basin
Camouflage-clad rangers who spend weeks in the rainforest pursuing poachers, often without guns to protect themselves. Village mamas looking for funds to send their kids to school. Elderly villagers who have legal rights to their land for the first time. Paralegals who visit the local jail weekly to make sure convicted criminals remain locked up. Indigenous gorilla trackers who lead tourists deep into the jungle without a compass. Government officials in window-lit offices struggling to provide crucial public services amid a culture of bribes. Fishers fed up with dwindling catches who realize they need to make a change to ensure a future for their children.
These are just a few of the 60 million people striving to overcome the challenges of daily life in the Congo Basin, the vast swath of tropical rainforest stretching across six countries in Central Africa. With the region facing a rapidly growing and urbanizing population, political upheaval and a burgeoning economic crisis, these forests represent a lifeline for all who depend upon it.
Since 1995, the Central Africa Regional Program for the Environment (CARPE) has invested millions of U.S. government dollars to protect the massive forest sometimes called Earth’s “second lung” while providing local people with economic alternatives to overexploiting it.
Implemented by a network of government agency and NGO partners, most of CARPE’s work falls into four categories:
CARPE provides critical long-term support for iconic species, essential ecosystems and communities that have nowhere else to turn — helping to bring much-needed security to one of the most turbulent places on Earth. Most importantly, it does so by empowering those whose well-being depends on a healthy forest, from indigenous communities to local businesses to national governments.
How do we do it? Here are some of the ways.