The U.S. Forest Service International Programs, through USAID’s Central Africa Regional Program for the Environment, is working in Central Africa to train communities on improved fire management. Uncontrolled fires pose a huge threat to Central African forests and can cause large releases of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere when burned, further exacerbating the effects of climate change. However, fire within forest-savannah mosaic landscapes in the Congo Basin can be both a management tool as well as a threat. If used in a sustainable manner, fire can help maintain pastureland and protect forests, farms, plantations, and villages. If used haphazardly, intentional and accidental fires can burn out of control, impacting large areas and threatening villages, farms, and forests. Here, during a trailing in May 2017, a local “fire brigade” is trained in how to control and suppress fire so that they can better deal with uncontrolled fires in their communities.
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An eco-guard walks along a newly renovated trail and bridge in Kahuzi Biega National Park in May 2018. The U.S. Forest Service International Programs, in partnership with the Wildlife Conservation Society and supported by USAID’s Central Africa Program for the Environment, is working with Kahuzi Biega National Park to improve and expand tourist hiking trails as well as work with nearby communities to maintain newly rehabilitated trails. Building capacity of national park staff and local communities not only improves visitor experience and creates economic opportunities for neighboring communities, but also puts the park on track for long-term financial stability, an essential step in the long-term protection of these landscapes, and the preservation of the forests within them.