‘The minute I met them I immediately understood they were in danger,everybody dominates them’
Accessing and using the forests upon which they depend for survival is one of the main challenges faced by local communities in the Congo Basin rainforests, especially for indigenous 'Pygmies'.
National laws offer very few rights for Central Africa's forest people, and even lands that have been occupied by them for many generations can be taken away at will, and handed over to companies to exploit for their timber.
Maps of the Congo Basin often make it appear empty of human settlement, giving rise to the erroneous belief that these lands are an unoccupied 'wilderness' available for others to use. But a technique called 'participatory mapping', a tool which combines the traditional knowledge of forest dwellers with sophisticated modern technology, is a means of showing the presence of otherwise 'invisible' forest people.
For the last ten years, the Rainforest Foundation UK has been helping local African organisations to carry out mapping with forest communities giving people such as the Bayaka Pygmies a means to gain greater control of their lives and to protect their environment.
Together with producer Luis Leitao, we made a documentary following the lives of one community and how they are mapping their land - watch the film here.
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