The Catholic bishops and the authorities of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) pleaded Monday for compensation of the populations for their efforts to save the forests of the DRC, the second world lung of the planet.

“How to conserve the forest in the face of the population who live from the forest (…) how to understand that the Congolese populations are obliged to empty their land, their living spaces” to save the planet, asked Bishop Marcel Utembi, president of the National Episcopal Conference of Congo (Cenco).

“The DRC has significant potential in relation to climate issues, but in return, the Congolese people have the right to benefit from fair compensation,” said Minister of the Environment, Eve Bazaiba.

The Congolese rainforest, which is home to the greatest biodiversity in Africa, covers more than 1.55 million km2 and concentrates the majority of the forests of the Congo River basin.

“For the Congolese government, there is no question of considering the people who live in or around protected areas as a threat, or that we can link the question of demography to the risk of forest destruction. “said Ms. Bazaiba.

“We cannot ask people to limit births to reduce the pressure on the forest,” insisted the minister. “There is no question of moving people far from protected areas, we must educate residents so that they can live in harmony with the forest, and give them other alternatives,” she added.

While recalling “the immeasurable wealth of the Congo Basin and the unbearable poverty of its inhabitants”, the Archbishop of Kinshasa, Fridolin Ambongo, considered “possible to coordinate and rationalize action on nature and especially on the basin of the Congo “.