Strong Roots mission is the involvement of the local and indigenous communities living around the Kahuzi -Biega National Park (KBNP) and its adjacent forests (Itombwe Reserve and Bushema Forest) in the long-term preservation of their natural resources through sustainable development projects.
We run several programs that support our mission, including:
- Artisan Cooperatives
- Environmental Education
- Health and Conservation Programs
- National Institute of Primatology (in development)
- Pygmy Land Project
- Retraining Miners Program
- Reforestation and Carbon Programs
- Pilot Project of a Baboon Home Range Restoration
- Artisan Cooperatives…Strong Roots works in partnership with men and women artisan co-ops located in the vicinities of these protected areas to generate income for local and indigenous communities in the area. The project activities are carving, painting, fashion sewing and other local and traditional artisan initiatives.
- Environmental Education…Strong Roots focuses on formal education through schools and universities, and informal education based on literacy centers. It provides incentives to schools in biodiversity conservation, where students are familiarized with finds of local solutions to environmental threats in their areas. The project is based on 21 schools (primary and secondary schools) around the KBNP including the management of one primary school and one secondary school where the conservation program is applied before being extended to the other schools.
The program also organizes eco-tourism and other educational activities for local, national and international people who desire to visit the gorillas and other wildlife already habituated to the human presence, including the rich tradition, culture and knowledge of the indigenous and local communities in their villages.
- Health and conservation…Strong Roots’ Health and Conservation Program focuses on crop production and food security with a particular component on environment conservation. It includes the breeding animals and the Sustainable Land Management in farming projects, to address the land degradation and the poaching activities in the protected areas. The program develops a Community Health project working to support health infrastructures in the area as well as an epidemiological study with a particular focus on anthropozoonoses (diseases which can be transferred between animals and humans); in partnership with the Research Center in Natural Sciences (CRSN-Lwiro) and the National Institute of Agricultural Research and Study (INERA-Mulungu).
- National Insitute of Primatology…The goal of this institution is to promote a sustainable protection of the primates in the DRC through a better and a scientific understanding of their current conservation status, their distribution and their interaction between themselves and the other wildlife in their habitat. The program is run in partnership with national and international research centers and universities with strong components in primates’ domains.
Pygmy Land Project…40 hectares have been leased and being utilized by 92 pygmy families living around the KBNP for crop production and food security for two agricultural campaigns. An additional fundraising campaign has been launched to purchase 10 hectares of land for the 150 pygmy families living in the Buyungule village, in the Chombo locality.
- Retraining of Miners…For the last 15 years, illegal mining has been recorded as the main threat faced by the gorillas’ survival in the KBNP as well the main source of fueling the conflicts in DRC. Strong Roots is working with miners and former miners through community based organizations and mining co-ops to provide livelihoods and other socioeconomic alternatives to tackle illegal mining in the protected areas.
- Reforestation and Carbon Projects…The tree planting project in the KBNP region is being coupled with a target to a carbon project to be developed within the project process.
- Pilot Project for Baboon Home Range Restoration…Strong Roots has convoyed a team of experts composed of primatologists, conservationists and socioeconomists (from the Research Center in Natural Sciences of Lwiro, the Congolese Institute for Nature Conservation and Strong Roots) to collect useful data for a conservation and research project along the Ruzizi River range, the border area between Rwanda and DRC. The Ruzizi River links the Lake Kivu and the Lake Tanganyika, crossing an area rich in biodiversity, including baboons, crocodiles, hippos, aquatic life and other small monkeys.