The Congo Basin is home to the world’s second-largest mosaic of tropical rainforests. These forests are essential to local populations for their livelihoods, and they matter to the international community for harboring biodiversity and potentially contributing to climate change mitigation.
With a specific emphasis on scientific training, the Ecole Régionale Postuniversitaire d’Aménagement et de Gestion Intégrés des Forêts et Territoires Tropicaux (ERAIFT), in Kinshasa, DRC, trains a cadre of regional graduate students in integrated and interdisciplinary forest management approaches. Since its creation in 1999, ERAIFT has graduated approximately thirty master’s and doctoral students from some ten African countries each year. Operating under the aegis of the UN Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), ERAIFT has created a community of environmental ambassadors who work with forest administrations, communities, national park services, and donors. ERAIFT models diplomacy for science; it was sparked by a regional need for forest experts, receives funding from a host of bilateral and multilateral donors, and partners with similar research institutions in the Amazon Basin. The Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) leads comparable training at the University of Kisangani in the DRC. Similarly, the World Resources Institute (WRI) is active in the Republic of the Congo and DRC, providing policy-design mentoring in the field of integrated land-use planning through its Strengthening Central Africa Environmental Management and Policy Support project funded by CARPE.