October 2014 - CBFP Partner of the Month: Rainforest Alliance - The Rainforest Alliance in the Congo Basin and Great Lakes region


The Rainforest Alliance (www.rainforest-alliance.org) is an international non-profit organization that works to conserve biodiversity and ensure sustainable livelihoods by transforming land-use practices, business practices and consumer behavior. We envision a world where people can work their land without degrading or depleting natural resources and biodiversity, and earn a viable income from their labor. Through partnerships with communities, government and companies, we work to develop and implement sustainability practices that deliver value to the economy, to local people and to a healthy and productive landscape. Today, there is a growing commitment by industry leaders to support production systems that produce high quality goods and services and provide a decent quality of life to producers. By harnessing this commitment and building the tools and abilities for local people to implement sustainable farm and forest management systems, the Rainforest Alliance is facilitating positive economic, social and environmental change throughout the value chains, from the crop to the consumer.


From large multinational corporations to small- and medium-sized enterprises, we involve producers, businesses and consumers all along the value chain in efforts to bring responsibly produced goods and services to a global marketplace where demand for sustainability is growing steadily. Since our first efforts in Central America nearly 30 years ago, we have grown into a global innovator of market-based solutions for conservation and economic development, now working in more than 80 countries.


In central Africa, the Rainforest Alliance is helping to develop viable sustainable forestry and sustainable agriculture in the Congo Basin and Great Lakes regions. Though we began working with just a few farms and forestry operations in the early 2000’s, today there are more than 2.4 million acres (1.5 million hectares) of land under sustainable management, and over 732,000 farms achieving Rainforest Alliance certification in 16 countries across West, East and Southern Africa, including Cameroon, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Rwanda, Burundi, Uganda, and more.


Sustainable Forestry in the Congo Basin


Through partnerships with the Global Environment Facility (GEF) and UNEP, the Congo Basin Forest Fund (CBFF), and private companies in the cocoa and forestry sectors, the Rainforest Alliance and its partners are working to develop community forestry and agroforestry models that meet social, economic and environmental goals.   


In the rich biodiversity of Cameroon’s southern forests the Rainforest Alliance is working together with Cercle de Promotion des Forêts et des Initiatives Locales de Développement (CEPFILD) and Organisation pour la Protection de la Forêt Camerounaise et de ses Ressources (OPFCR) to define a model for sustainable management and growth of community forestry enterprises. With funding from the CBFF, the project is assisting twelve communities that manage 50,000 hectares in the Campo – Ma’an and Djoum – Mintom regions of southern Cameroon to build capacity for more efficient and effective forest management and improved access to national and international markets for timber and non-timber forest products. The families, comprised of more than 60,000 people, are benefitting from transparent and effective management and sales of their forests’ resources, a stronger voice for women and minorities in forest planning and decision making, and a more diversified source of income. For more information about our work in Cameroon, please visit: http://www.rainforest-alliance.org/work/forestry/community-forestry/regions/cameroon.


In a regional project funded by GEF and implemented by UNEP, the World Resources Institute (WRI) and Rainforest Alliance are working with COMIFAC to improve sustainable timber management in the Congo Basin. The project promotes a harmonized approach to the sustainable management of production forests by tackling illegal logging, developing market and fiscal incentives that encourage legal and sustainable forest management, and supporting the development of governance conditions that permit equitable participation and benefit sharing among all forest stakeholders.


Sustainable Agriculture in the Great Lakes region

Through public-private partnerships between the UK Department for International Development (DFID) and Bettys & Taylors of Harrogate, through the Food Retail Industry Challenge Fund (FRICH), as well as the Dutch Sustainable Trade Initiative (IDH) and Unilever Plc, and grants from the Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund (CEPF), the Rainforest Alliance has been working with hundreds of thousands of tea and coffee producer groups in Rwanda, Uganda, Burundi, Tanzania and Kenya to conserve biodiversity, improve yields and strengthen local capacity.


In 2009, the Rainforest Alliance began working with Betty’s and Taylors of Harrogate in Rwanda to improve the consistency of high-quality tea, decrease the negative impacts of tea production on the landscape, and benefit local communities. So far, over 3,600 hectares of tea earned Rainforest Alliance certification through this project, with over 10,000 smallholder farmers learning better environmental practices on their farms, and over 46,000 native trees planted to support biodiversity. Since the project began, the minimum wage for the Rwandan tea sector increased by 40%. For more information about our work in Rwanda, including videos about this project, please visit: http://www.rainforest-alliance.org/multimedia/rwanda-tea-exploration


Globally, the Rainforest Alliance works with groups of farmers in critical ecosystems, providing training in the best practices of the Sustainable Agriculture Network standards (www.sanstandards.org), which currently cover 97 agriculture products and cattle production systems in 43 countries.  More than 1,800,000 hectares of coffee, tea, and cocoa growing land in East and West Africa have earned certification for meeting the SAN standard, which sets rigorous criteria for legal compliance, ecosystem conservation (including water and soil), wildlife protection, integrated crop and waste management, fair working conditions, and more. This includes nearly 73,000 coffee crop production hectares and over 200,000 tea crop production hectares.  Adoption of SAN practices, and further training on climate change adaptation and mitigation strategies, results in tangible and sustained increases in the quality of tea and coffee available on the market and strengthens value chains between producers and international buyers, like Bettys and Taylors of Harrogate. 


For more information, please contact Meghan Madden, Coordinator, Government and Multilateral Grants - Rainforest Alliance  [mailto:mmadden@ra.org]  


Images credits: from top to down: (2)  A Ugandan coffee farmer participating in Rainforest Alliance training - (3)  Group certification in Rwanda.

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