Congo basin forests: tipping points for biodiversity conservation and resilience of forested social and ecological systems.

Durée : 2013 - 2015
Programme : FP7 ERA-NET BioDiverSa2
Portée : Internationale

Forests of the Congo Basin shelter an exceptional biodiversity, provide critical ecosystem services and support the livelihood of vulnerable communities. Under the pressure of global changes, these forested social and ecological landscapes are evolving. Climate change, deforestation, and degradation critically influence their biodiversity, in turn affecting the functions and services they provide, at local, regional and global scales. The purpose of CoForTips is to foster better management of the Congo Basin forests through a better understanding of the dynamics, regime shifts and tipping points of biodiversity and the resilience of forested social ecological systems (SES) and the construction of scenarios of biodiversity. The project will: I. Identify Tipping Points in the Forests of the Congo Basin SES, mapping biodiversity resilience, identifying stable states and tipping points focusing on tree communities and keystone wildlife species and identifying drivers and potential impacts of policy and management decisions on biodiversity and on the SES ability to provide and deliver ecosystem services; II. Construct Scenarios of Biodiversity, integrating social, economic, governance, ecological and geophysical processes in a platform able to simulate regional trajectories including sensitivity analysis and levels of uncertainty and incorporating feedback loops based on coping strategies developed by stakeholders as evidenced by locally relevant participatory modelled scenario; III. Foster Resilience, embedding the results of our research in the decision making process at the regional and national levels, through well defined impact pathways involving policy makers and the civil society since the inception of the project, through participatory construction of scenarios, fostering innovation in forest and biodiversity policy and management. The project will work under the umbrella of the Commission of Central African Forests (COMIFAC) and build upon the following previous projects: (a) ‘Consolidating the Observatory for the Forests of Central Africa’ (CEOFAC) (Congo Basin Forest Partnership and COMIFAC), (b) CoforChange (BIODIVERSA 2008), describing the dynamics of biodiversity in response to different climatic and anthropogenic change scenarios, (c) ‘Prospective study of the forests of central Africa by 2040’, identifying the drivers of change for the forests of the region, and (d) MAKALA project, for a sustainable management of the resource wood energy (EuropeAid). The results will be of interest to the regional partners but also to the European Union, as European countries are net consumers of African tropical timber, own most of the logging companies in the region, are highly concerned by the capacity of tropical forests to serve as carbon sinks, 4) strive to uplift the living standards of marginal communities (Lisbon declaration of the EU-Africa Summit), and 5) have a comittment to biodiversity conservation (Working Program on Forest Biological Diversity). By adopting a participatory, cross-sectoral, and multidisciplinary approach, we will ensure that our results and scenarios are embedded in the policy making process, paying close attention to the governance structure. We will enrol key stakeholders and leaders at every step of the project and secure a clear and direct communication of the research results among the involved stakeholders, closing the gap between knowledge production and action.


  • IIASA (Autriche)
  • Univ. Liège-Gembloux