The World Resources Institute (WRI) and the Democratic Republic of Congo’s (DRC) Ministry of Environment, Nature Conservation, and Tourism (MECNT) have announced the release of an interactive map viewer for the Forest Atlas of the Democratic Republic of Congo. The interactive tool allows users to easily see roads, logging and mining concessions, protected areas and detailed forest change.

Covering two-thirds of the country’s territory, the forests of the DRC are home to a wealth of biodiversity and serve as one of the planet’s major forest carbon sinks. These forests also support the livelihoods of tens of millions of Congolese citizens.

The Government of DRC faces many challenges in developing comprehensive forest management and zoning processes, as well as the day-to-day monitoring of forest-based activities such as logging, mining and agriculture. In 2006, MECNT partnered with WRI to develop the Interactive Forest Atlas as a freely and publicly available resource. The interactive map viewer provides a way to explore the Atlas in detail online.

Users can click on forest concessions or protected areas for further information. The transparency of map layers is adjustable to view the base map data underneath; for example, logging concessions may be made transparent to view logging roads visible on satellite imagery beneath them. Any of the map themes can also be viewed in Google Earth

Susan Minnemeyer of WRI said, “Easier access to current forest land allocation in the DRC will help the government improve land use planning, monitoring, and resolution of conflicts over resources in areas of overlapping claims. It will also help local NGOs and communities understand government actions and defend their access rights.

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