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SAFECO, in partnership with WECAN International, is WECAN-Congo in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Africa’s Congo Basin is home to the second largest rainforest in the world. WECAN-Congo focuses on women-led climate change solutions and the protection of the Itombwe Rainforest by supporting the region’s Indigenous and local communities, whose cultural and ecologic heritage is threatened by unsustainable and exploitative logging, mining and agricultural practices. Through online and on-the-ground trainings, and ongoing re-forestation programs, WECAN-Congo is providing a platform for local women to learn, strategize, and implement a plan for protection of the Itombwe Rainforest and for climate justice.

How we helped

Currently local communities depend 100% on Itombwe’s old-growth forest for fuelwood and other wood products such as timber, food charcoal and medicine. In addition, subsistence farmers continue clearing land as determined in the Congolese constitution as the manner in which one acquires access to land. Another threat to the forest habitat is illegal timber harvesting operations. But perhaps the greatest threat to the Itombwe forest is a general lack of education about forest conservation, alongside complete ignorance about Climate Change and how people's behaviors contribute to the global calamity. Our project aims to address these issues through environmental education for local communities and widespread tree planting activities. As well, we have initiated livelihood development activities in the form of solar lighting and clean cookstoves, with the purpose of reducing the dependence of the region’s communities on the Itombwe old-growth forest, which will support ongoing climate mitigation by old-growth forest carbon sequestration. Additionally, by reforestation/tree planting, this project is going to reduce pressure on the remaining Itombwe forest while regenerating lost forest cover. The reforestation goal of this project is to plant a minimum 20,000 trees per year. Four tree nurseries have been developed to grow the seedlings. The tree planting period is from November to February. At least 35 hectares of land will be reforested each year.

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