Safeguarding Africa’s Forests Amid Growing International Timber Demand is the Focus of Grants in Arcus’ Summer 2016 Portfolio

June 30, 2016

Several grants in the Arcus Foundation’s summer 2016 grant portfolio promote conservation collaboration across key African great ape landscapes, with a particular emphasis on mitigating the environmental effects of the increases in extraction of African timber by logging companies from foreign nations. Working with both local governments to develop and enforce conservation legislation and with governments and authorities of the extracting countries to institute sustainable forestry practices, these groups aim to highlight and resolve new challenges to ape conservation posed by extensive new development.

A grant to Greenpeace’s Congo Basin Forest Safeguarding Project will help the organization develop and strengthen policy and legislation for China to control its timber trade, seek sanctions for importers who cannot prove the legality of their sources, and move the Democratic Republic of Congo and Cameroon governments toward bolstering national forest legislation.

The Nature Conservancy, too, plans to explore Chinese demand for timber and overseas investment in forestry and will work with Chinese authorities to improve their ability to source and support sustainable timber.

A first grant to James Cook University, a public university in Queensland, Australia, will examine the planned expansion of infrastructure development in Africa, assessing the environmental impact of “development corridors” on great apes and their habitats as well as developing land-use planning strategies that mitigate these effects.

A grant to Wild Chimpanzee Foundation —whose work over the past five years has led to significant decreases in poaching in sites with western chimpanzee populations—will help improve biomonitoring using camera-trap methods and promotion of ecotourism in Cote D’Ivoire’s Tai National Park, the largest protected primary forest in West Africa.

Around the proposed Lomani National Park in the Tshuapa-Lomami-Lualaba Conservation Landscape (“TL2”) of the Democratic Republic of Congo, a first-time grant to the Rainforest Foundation will help this organization document and understand the views of the local communities and strengthen the respect for local community rights and build upon their engagement as the park is developed.

A grant to long-time partner the African Wildlife Foundation is intended to support collaboration and conservation in six ape landscapes in Cameroon, Senegal, and Democratic Republic of Congo, building on its strong relationships with local actors in each area. Learning events are planned in each country, including one in Senegal aimed at working with a mining company to mitigate the impact of operations on the local chimpanzee population.

Borneo Nature Foundation (formerly OuTrop), whose research area was profoundly affected by the fall 2015 peat-swamp fires in Kalimantan, Borneo, received funding for patrolling and monitoring to counter the threat of fires, peat drainage, and logging to the orangutans and gibbons of the Sabangau and Rungan Forests of Central Kalimantan. The foundation also plans to implement new conservation strategies and implement an ape conservation program in the Rungan Forest.

Additional grants were awarded to: Pan African Sanctuaries Alliance, The Orang-utan Conservation Genetics Trust, and the Village Enterprise Fund.