Planted trees bring renewed energy to the Yangambi landscapes

Only 1 in 100 rural households has access to electricity in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). Firewood and charcoal – up to 84% of all harvested wood – supply most of the country’s domestic energy needs, but decades of political instability and conflict have taken a toll on tropical forests. The lack of power supply is holding back private households, value addition and local entrepreneurship.

New efforts to plant trees in degraded areas around the Yangambi Biosphere Reserve in Tshopo province, Northern DRC, could supply electricity to neighboring communities, provide jobs and create business opportunities. The plantations are an initiative of the European Union-funded ‘Training, Research, and Environment in the Tshopo’ project (FORETS), in partnership with INERA, the Belgian Royal Museum for Central Africa, and Resources and Synergies Development.

Most fibers will feed a biomass plant, generating heat and electricity for neighboring villages. Local farmers will test agroforestry schemes among the trees and can also use part of the wood for their fuel needs, taking some pressure off the forest reserve.

Challenges are many – a lack of skilled labor, tenure and transport issues, adequate seedling supply, fire – but the initial 300 ha planted, the creation of local employment (400+ people), constant dialogue with local partners, and the implementation of ad hoc conflict-prevention strategies, convey the message that where trees grow, so can the local economy for the benefit of all.

Project info


Formation, Recherche, Environnement dans la Tshopo (FORETS), Phase 2 (2018-2021)


Democratic Republic of the Congo

Funding partners

European Union (XI European Development Fund)

Project partners


CIFOR focal point

Paolo Cerutti, Senior Scientist

Forests in a
time of crises


In 2019, the world witnessed some of our greatest challenges shift gears from urgent to emergency – from climate crisis to landscape degradation to the wildfires that devastated ecosystems across several continents. But it also saw momentum build with the announcement of the UN Decade of Ecological Restoration, a focus on nature-based solutions, and the recognition of local forest communities and Indigenous Peoples are the best land managers for forest conservation.

Another exciting development – the merger of CIFOR and World Agroforestry (ICRAF) – set the stage for more evidence and solutions that will improve people’s lives, help to conserve and restore the ecosystems that support people and nature, and respond to the global climate crisis.

Our scientists advanced critical knowledge on forest landscape restoration, wild foods and timber legality in Zambia, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and peatland fires, biofuel, oil palm and wetland ‘blue carbon’ in Indonesia – with clear policy impacts in Southeast Asia from 10 years of social forestry research and engagement. Our ongoing Global Comparative Studies – GCS REDD+ and GCS Tenure – continued to bring science to policy makers across Africa, Asia and Latin America. Gender researchers looked deep into a myriad of topics, and we mourned the loss of principal scientist and Nairobi hub leader Esther Mwangi, whose legacy of achievements in gender and land rights won’t be soon forgotten. Finally the Global Landscapes Forum brought even more people together, both at events from Accra to Luxembourg as well as through exciting new digital innovations.