Article

Establishing the Itombwe Natural Reserve: science, participatory consultations and zoning

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Abstract

Biological surveys starting in the 1950s provided clear evidence that the Itombwe Massif, located in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, is one of the most important areas for conservation in Africa. Further surveys in the mid 1990s and early 2000s showed key species were still present and could be conserved. Following a report on these surveys the Ministry of Environment established the Itombwe Reserve in 2006 without consulting local communities who have legitimate customary rights to reside within the area and use the region's natural resources. Although creating the Reserve was within the government's legal authority, its establishment violated the rights of the people there. Here we report over a decade of work by a consortium of international and national human rights and conservation NGOs, the local communities and the protected areas authority (Institut Congolais pour la Conservation de la Nature), to remediate this taking of customary rights. Starting in 2008 these partners began a participatory process with all 550 villages within and around the boundary of the Reserve. Using a community resource use mapping approach, developed from best practices, the team helped communities determine the boundary of the Reserve, and then pilot participatory zoning to identify zones for settlements, agriculture, hunting, gathering of non-timber forest products, and conservation. This process secured the customary rights of long-term residents in the Reserve and protected their lands from being taken by non-rights holders. As a result of this work the use rights of communities were largely restored and the communities agreed on 23 June 2016 to formalize the boundaries of the renamed Itombwe Nature Reserve.

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... Located in eastern DRC's South Kivu Province, the Itombwe Massif is the most biologically rich region of the Albertine Rift (Kujirakwinja et al., 2019). Despite attracting the attention of naturalists and biologists since the Colonial era, it was not until the 1990s that discussions commenced over whether a protected area should be established in the region. ...
... Some people still remembered the displacements from Kahuzi-Biega during the 1970s and were afraid the same thing would happen around Itombwe Nature Reserve. AfriCapacity, a Congolese NGO, even took action to get the entire reserve legally degazetted (Kujirakwinja et al., 2019). Some communities would not allow representatives of the reserve onto their lands. ...
... Itombwe Nature Reserve is the only protected area in eastern Congo to be established according to the community conservation paradigm during a period of active conflict. Uniquely, multiple armed groups and around 600,000 people were living in the wider region while the reserve was being created (Kujirakwinja et al., 2019;. International NGOs cooperated with the government to establish the reserve through two governmental technologies: participatory mapping and zoning exercises; and the partial devolution of regulatory responsibility to communities themselves. ...
... Itombwe Nature Reserve (INR) is the only protected area in eastern Congo to be established according the community conservation paradigm in a conflict-afflicted region where militarised conservation dominates. Uniquely, multiple armed groups and around 600,000 people were living in the wider region while the reserve was being created (Kujirakwinja et al., 2019;. International NGOs cooperated with the government to establish the reserve through two governmental technologies: participatory mapping and zoning exercises; and the partial devolution of regulatory responsibility to communities themselves. ...
... km, the reserve was promoted as a way to protect the region's forests from being sold out to commercial logging and mining concessions (Gauthier, 2016). Yet for many of the 600,000 or so people living in and around it, the reserve represented a top-down, rushed and unjust attempt to take control of their lands (Kujirakwinja et al., 2019). Few communities were consulted in advance of the decree's publication, which failed to account for their livelihood needs and the complex territorial structures of different ethnic groups living in the area. ...
... During the course of discussions, it became clear that the first two NGOs were keen to proceed with the conservation project, whereas the latter were more concerned about safeguarding the rights of communities. Yet despite differences of option, all parties eventually came to the agreement that steps needed to be taken to protect the Itombwe Massif against external threats (Kujirakwinja et al., 2019). ...
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Conservation efforts must develop strategies to perform at violent frontiers where environmental values, mineral extraction and conflict intersect. Using war-torn eastern Democratic Republic of Congo's Itombwe Nature Reserve as an illustrative example, this article explores how community conservation is implemented and received at a violent frontier. Taking inspiration from an emerging body of literature which portrays conservation as a form of ‘social contract’ in regions where the nation state is weak or absent, it explores some of the expectations and obligations that surround community conservation initiatives. It draws the conclusion that conservation social contracts are likely to produce unintended consequences when left unfulfilled or broken. Conservation actors perceived to be breaking the terms of (implicit) social contracts can inadvertently encourage local communities to embrace alternative contracts with other actors seeking to extract value from the resources located in frontiers, such as industrial mining companies.
... For example, the relationship between protected areas and surrounding areas has been reported to have both positive and negative effects from the perspectives of socioeconomics and biodiversity protection (Perelló et al., 2012). Setting park boundaries without considering resource use can cause conflict with the local community and necessitate resetting the boundaries (Kujirakwinja et al., 2019). Moreover, establishing protected areas can alter land use both within and around protected areas (Gimmi and Radeloff, 2013;Moraes et al., 2017), threatening the sustainability of resource use and resulting in fragmentation and isolation of local landscapes (Nagendra et al., 2006). ...
... Resource assessment based on scientific evidence helps in resolving regional conflicts (Kujirakwinja et al., 2019). This study clarified the spatial distribution between the wood resources, an historically important service for the region, and zoning in national parks. ...
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Among the ecosystem services that humans use from forest ecosystems, wood resources are one of the basic services that are essential to human life. Since the use of wood resources disturbs ecosystems, overharvesting destroys local ecosystems, resulting in a decline in ecosystem services. Therefore, there is a need to balance the use of wood resources by people with the health of the ecosystem. In this study, we evaluated wood provisioning in newly established national parks in Okinawa Main Island, Japan, for future sustainable management. We clarified the spatial distribution between the forest stand volume obtained from LiDAR data, the logging sites before the national park designation, and national park zoning. We found that the buffer zone contains some forests with high stand volume that continue from the core area. There had not been much logging in recent years, but most logging sites were located in the buffer zone and within 200m from roads. Forests with aged stands and high stand volume are important as buffers to prevent isolation of the core area. Therefore, park managers need to consider not only the legal regulations for each zone but also the continuity with the surrounding natural environment to prevent isolation of the core area. Understanding the spatial distribution of wood resources and park zoning relationships at a fine-scale resolution will be useful for managing buffer zones where there is competition between conservation and resource use.
... Despite the number of protected areas, the conservation of these forests is a challenge, particularly in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DR Congo), where five World Heritage Sites have been placed on the 'In Danger' list for more than 20 years. To date, engagement of local populations in the management of Congolese forests has been limited (Kujirakwinja et al. 2018). In order to design effective forest management interventions that also prevent harm and promote the wellbeing of local populations, it is important to consider local populations' needs and perspectives (Martin et al. 2016). ...
... In 2006, the Minister for the Environment declared unilaterally that a reserve would be established in the Itombwe Mts. International and national human rights and conservation NGOs, local communities, and protected area authorities took over 10 years to formalize the boundaries of the now called Itombwe Nature Reserve (Kujirakwinja et al. 2018). Access to the forests in the Itombwe Mts is not restricted, and there are some community forests surrounding this reserve. ...
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The forests of the Albertine Rift are known for their high biodiversity and the important ecosystem services they provide to millions of inhabitants. However, their conservation and the maintenance of ecosystem service delivery is a challenge, particularly in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Our research investigates how livelihood strategy and ethnicity affects local perceptions of forest ecosystem services. We collected data through 25 focus-group discussions in villages from distinct ethnic groups, including farmers (Tembo, Shi, and Nyindu) and hunter-gatherers (Twa). Twa identify more food-provisioning services and rank bush meat and honey as the most important. They also show stronger place attachment to the forest than the farmers, who value other ecosystem services, but all rank microclimate regulation as the most important. Our findings help assess ecosystem services trade-offs, highlight the important impacts of restricted access to forests resources for Twa, and point to the need for developing alternative livelihood strategies for these communities.
... The Itombwe Mts are part of the Albertine Afromontane Biodiversity Hotspot [19], and support globally important populations of Grauer's gorillas (Gorilla beringei graueri), eastern chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes schweinfurthii) and forest elephants (Loxodonta cyclotis) [20]. Most of the montane forest and alpine vegetation is now part of the Itombwe Nature Reserve, which was declared in 2006 but the boundaries of which were established in 2016 [21]. Insecurity (the presence of armed groups hiding in the forest) is high throughout the Itombwe Mts, and market access is limited in the eastern part due to poor road conditions and the greater distance to the Bukavu or Uvira urban centers ( Figure 1). ...
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The warming rates in many mountain areas are higher than the global average, negatively impacting crop systems. Little is known about the climatic changes which are already being observed in eastern Democratic Republic (DR) of Congo, due to the lack of long-term meteorological data. Local perceptions could help us to understand not only the climatic changes and impacts but also which adaptation strategies are already being used by local smallholder farmers. Semi-structured questionnaires were administered to 300 smallholder Bafuliru (n = 150) and Lega (n = 150) farmers living in the Itombwe Mountains. The respondents reported climatic changes and impacts, with the Bafuliru—living on the eastern drier slopes—reporting more changes and impacts. While the Bafuliru were implementing several adaptation strategies (e.g., increased irrigation and use of inputs, more soil conservation, more income diversification), the Lega were implementing very few, due to soft limits (access to inputs, markets, and information) and culture (less interest in farming, less capacity to organize into groups). The results highlight important differences in sociocultural contexts, even for one ‘remote’ mountain, calling for a more collaborative approach to adaptation planning and action.
... Following Doumenge (1998), the forests are dominated by The Itombwe Mountains are part of the Albertine Afromontane Biodiversity Hotspot (Myers et al., 2000). The Itombwe Nature Reserve (about 6,000 km 2 , see Figure 1), declared in 2006 but with the boundaries delimited in 2016 (Kujirakwinja et al., 2019), contains the four, above-mentioned montane forest types. Upper montane forests cannot be found outside the Reserve. ...
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An $s$ stage $k$ name snowball sampling procedure is defined as follows: A random sample of individuals is drawn from a given finite population. (The kind of random sample will be discussed later in this section.) Each individual in the sample is asked to name $k$ different individuals in the population, where $k$ is a specified integer; for example, each individual may be asked to name his "$k$ best friends," or the "$k$ individuals with whom he most frequently associates," or the "$k$ individuals whose opinions he most frequently seeks," etc. (For the sake of simplicity, we assume throughout that an individual cannot include himself in his list of $k$ individuals.) The individuals who were not in the random sample but were named by individuals in it form the first stage. Each of the individuals in the first stage is then asked to name $k$ different individuals. (We assume that the question asked of the individuals in the random sample and of those in each stage is the same and that $k$ is the same.) The individuals who were not in the random sample nor in the first stage but were named by individuals who were in the first stage form the second stage. Each of the individuals in the second stage is then asked to name $k$ different individuals. The individuals who were not in the random sample nor in the first or second stages but were named by individuals who were in the second stage form the third stage. Each of the individuals in the third stage is then asked to name $k$ different individuals. This procedure is continued until each of the individuals in the $s$th stage has been asked to name $k$ different individuals. The data obtained using an $s$ stage $k$ name snowball sampling procedure can be utilized to make statistical inferences about various aspects of the relationships present in the population. The relationships present, in the hypothetical situation where each individual in the population is asked to name $k$ different individuals, can be described by a matrix with rows and columns corresponding to the members of the population, rows for the individuals naming and columns for the individuals named, where the entry $\theta_{ij}$ in the $i$th row and $j$th column is 1 if the $i$th individual in the population includes the $j$th individual among the $k$ individuals he would name, and it is 0 otherwise. While the matrix of the $\theta$'s cannot be known in general unless every individual in the population is interviewed (i.e., asked to name $k$ different individuals), it will be possible to make statistical inferences about various aspects of this matrix from the data obtained using an $s$ stage $k$ name snowball sampling procedure. For example, when $s = k = 1$, the number, $M_{11}$, of mutual relationships present in the population (i.e., the number of values $i$ with $\theta_{ij} = \theta_{ji} = 1$ for some value of $j > i$) can be estimated. The methods of statistical inference applied to the data obtained from an $s$ stage $k$ name snowball sample will of course depend on the kind of random sample drawn as the initial step. In most of the present paper, we shall suppose that a random sample (i.e., the "zero stage" in snowball sample) is drawn so that the probability, $p$, that a given individual in the population will be in the sample is independent of whether a different given individual has appeared. This kind of sampling has been called binomial sampling; the specified value of $p$ (assumed known) has been called the sampling fraction [4]. This sampling scheme might also be described by saying that a given individual is included in the sample just when a coin, which has a probability $p$ of "heads," comes up "heads," where the tosses of the coin from individual to individual are independent. (To each individual there corresponds an independent Bernoulli trial determining whether he will or will not be included in the sample.) This sampling scheme differs in some respects from the more usual models where the sample size is fixed in advance or where the ratio of the sample size to the population size (i.e., the sample size-population size ratio) is fixed. For binomial sampling, this ratio is a random variable whose expected value is $p$. (The variance of this ratio approaches zero as the population becomes infinite.) In some situations (where, for example, the variance of this ratio is near zero), mathematical results obtained for binomial sampling are sometimes quite similar to results obtained using some of the more usual sampling models (see [4], [7]; compare the variance formulas in [3] and [5]); in such cases it will often not make much difference, from a practical point of view, which sampling model is utilized. (In Section 6 of the present paper some results for snowball sampling based on an initial sample of the more usual kind are obtained and compared with results presented in the earlier sections of this paper obtained for snowball sampling based on an initial binomial sample.) For snowball sampling based on an initial binomial sample, and with $s = k = 1$, so that each individual asked names just one other individual and there is just one stage beyond the initial sample, Section 2 of this paper discusses unbiased estimation of $M_{11}$, the number of pairs of individuals in the population who would name each other. One of the unbiased estimators considered (among a certain specified class of estimators) has uniformly smallest variance when the population characteristics are unknown; this one is based on a sufficient statistic for a simplified summary of the data and is the only unbiased estimator of $M_{11}$ based on that sufficient statistic (when the population characteristics are unknown). This estimator (when $s = k = 1$) has a smaller variance than a comparable minimum variance unbiased estimator computed from a larger random sample when $s = 0$ and $k = 1$ (i.e., where only the individuals in the random sample are interviewed) even where the expected number of individuals in the larger random sample $(s = 0, k = 1)$ is equal to the maximum expected number of individuals studied when $s = k = 1$ (i.e., the sum of the expected number of individuals in the initial sample and the maximum expected number of individuals in the first stage). In fact, the variance of the estimator when $s = 0$ and $k = 1$ is at least twice as large as the variance of the comparable estimator when $s = k = 1$ even where the expected number of individuals studied when $s = 0$ and $k = 1$ is as large as the maximum expected number of individuals studied when $s = k = 1$. Thus, for estimating $M_{11}$, the sampling scheme with $s = k = 1$ is preferable to the sampling scheme with $s = 0$ and $k = 1$. Furthermore, we observe that when $s = k = 1$ the unbiased estimator based on the simplified summary of the data having minimum variance when the population characteristics are unknown can be improved upon in cases where certain population characteristics are known, or where additional data not included in the simplified summary are available. Several improved estimators are derived and discussed. Some of the results for the special case of $s = k = 1$ are generalized in Sections 3 and 4 to deal with cases where $s$ and $k$ are any specified positive integers. In Section 5, results are presented about $s$ stage $k$ name snowball sampling procedures, where each individual asked to name $k$ different individuals chooses $k$ individuals at random from the population. (Except in Section 5, the numbers $\theta_{ij}$, which form the matrix referred to earlier, are assumed to be fixed (i.e., to be population parameters); in Section 5, they are random variables. A variable response error is not considered except in so far as Section 5 deals with an extreme case of this.) For social science literature that discusses problems related to snowball sampling, see [2], [8], and the articles they cite. This literature indicates, among other things, the importance of studying "social structure and...the relations among individuals" [2].
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This paper reports the findings of a study undertaken to assess the socio-economic and environmental impacts of mining in Geita District, Tanzania. In addition to sampling community perceptions of mining activities, the study prescribes interventions that can assist in mitigating the negative impacts of mining. Marked environmental and interrelated socio-economic improvements can be achieved within regional artisanal gold mines if the government provides technical support to local operators, regulations are improved, and illegal mining activity is reduced.
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Over the last decade the concepts, policies and practices of conservation in Africa have begun to shift towards what has been viewed as a community-based approach. This introductory paper to the Policy Arena argues that the ideas underpinning this shift-a greater interest in local level and community-based natural resource management, the treatment of conservation as simply one of many forms of natural resource use and a belief in the contribution that markets can make to the achievement of conservation goals-are better understood as a 'new conservation'. This new conservation is presently diffusing through Africa both challenging 'fortress conservation' and working alongside it. It is no panacea for the problems that conservation faces but it does provide a basis from which more effective policies and institutions can evolve. Copyright © 1999 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
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