Peace Forest Partners

Throughout the Congo rainforest, communities have banded together in the name of preserving the bonobos and their habitat. The Community Coalition for Conservation of Bonobos (CCCB), of which BCI is a founding member, has championed the cause of conservation through cooperation and sharing resources. At a recent meeting in Kinshasa, they unveiled big plans for the year ahead.

CCCB meeting participants
CCCB meeting participants included representatives
from Congolese NGOs, DRC’s Ministry of Scientific
Research, and BCI’s US and DRC offices

On January 29th, 2014, leaders convened in Kinshasa for a meeting of the Coalition for Community Conservation of Bonobos (CCCB). Established in 2007, the CCCB provides a network or “reseau” for the Bonobo Peace Forest partners and other local organizations to share information and resources. The CCCB gives local communities a voice in shaping policy, strengthening the cause of locally-based bonobo and rainforest protection.

Communication was a key issue at the recent meeting, and new initiatives to improve it included electing an active secretariat to be housed at BCI’s Kinshasa office and installing high-frequency radios at field sites that do not have them already. Not only do the various member organizations plan to work more closely with each other, they’ll also reach out to local communities through a new collaborative project called Radio Bonobo.

Remembering our friend, Yangozene Kumugo (left)
Behind all of our accomplishments are incredible people
who make everything possible. On January 2nd, we lost one
of those people – Yangozene Kumugo, known as
“Kakoko,” a passionate conservationist and a dear friend.

Radio Bonobo’s goal is to establish community radio stations in each region to raise awareness of the crucial importance of bonobo conservation, to strengthen enforcement of laws against hunting or trading in bonobos and other endangered species, and to provide practical and educational information about issues, such as sustainable development and healthcare. Ultimately, Radio Bonobo aspires to act as a touchstone for peace in the DRC.  As a symbol for peace and cooperation, the bonobo is a natural icon, and the Peace Forest itself helps to promote and maintain peace through wise and equitable management of the natural resources whose exploitation has driven conflict.

In addition, members discussed plans for other projects that will enhance local livelihoods and support the success of our mission.  This includes renewable energy, solar lighting solutions, and marketing non-timber forest products.

The election of new CCCB officers was another main focus of the meeting. Founding partner Albert Lotana Lokasola of Vie Sauvage has been elected the new President, supported by Dr. Mwanza Ndunda of the DRC Ministry for Scientific Research, who retains the position of Vice President.  Lokasola’s partnership with BCI created the pilot Peace Forest project at Kokolopori.  He was recently recognized for his work in DRC Parliament to advance new environmental legislation.  And, Kombe Cosmas of Faune et Flore de Lomela (FFL), representing the Sankuru Nature Reserve, was elected Secretary.

New CCCB President, Albert Lokasola
New CCCB President, Albert Lokasola

BCI is honored to collaborate with all of the inspiring local partners who are working on the frontlines every day to protect bonobos and give voice to rainforest communities. To express our pride and gratitude, we would like to honor each of the members of the CCCB. Stay tuned for our upcoming series of articles highlighting the work of our Peace Forest partners!