The Forests of the Congo Basin are endangered because, despite being the world’s second largest tropical forest, the overall commitment to their maintenance has been shoddy at worst and ineffective at best. The history of atrocities in the Congo has remained largely untold or greatly dismissed (Malcolm X and Breitman, 1992; Hochschild, 1998; Conrad and Murfin, 2010). Beginning before the European colonial land grab of Africa, Leopold held the DRC as his personal slave state killing over an estimated 10 million Congolese (Hochschild, 1998; Conrad and Murfin, 2010). During the colonial period, the DRC was plagued by the natural resource curse, leaving the ecological health of the Congo Forests in a constant state of decline (Hochschild, 1998, Oliver and Atmore, 2000; McFerson, 2010; Malhi et al.
, 2013; Hansen et al., 2013 Potapov et al., 2012). And since managers do not use an inclusive framework for assessing the state of forests, sustainably managing these forests will only become harder with increased environmental variation that is also likely to have adverse impacts onsocial dynamics.Forests in Central Africa have supported human communities for millennia through the provision of ecosystem services (Malhi et al., 2013). Forest-dwelling communities depend on these services for their livelihoods. Nowadays, forests are targeted for their climate mitigation properties (UNMEA, 2005).
However, the failure to account for decades of unsuccessful policies raises serious questions and concerns regarding relevancy and direction of current sustainable forest management, its intervention strategies, development plans, and, most importantly, equity. The relatively small numbers of individuals who effect driving forces are standing at the top of the governance hierarchy in their ability to address the root causes of environmental change in LTLT communities, and they are also those who are able to, through responses, address pressures and changes to the state as well (Carr et al., 2007). There has been a flock of investors, both public and private, looking to curb greenhouse gas emissions and also to profit from their ventures in forests. However, traditional knowledge and management is still greatly marginalized, seen as inferior to western and modern styles (Vansina, 1990).
The Driver-Pressure-State-Impact-Response (DPSIR) framework was created by the European Environmental Protection Agency to provide structure for better understanding Integrated Environmental Assessments (Kristensen, 2004). DPSIR is a conceptual framework useful for understanding and communicating causal changes around the state of the environment to audiences at varying levels, a tool extremely useful for bridging the gap at the science-policy interface (Bell, 2012). This framework, when applied to transdisciplinary studies, addresses the complexities of horizontal and vertical management practices, articulating to diverse audiences a relevant, easily digestible message, helping to ensure accountability and transparency. It has successfully been used in Ghana to present complex environmental information to policy-makers (Agyemang et al. 2007), in Brazil in the Guanabara Bay to integrate natural and socio-economic indicators (Bidone and Lacerda, 2004), and as a problem structuring method for ecosystem-based management (Gregory et al., 2013).
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