Where We Work:


The Bili-Uele Protected Area Complex stretches over 40,000 square kilometers and hosts significant populations of Eastern chimpanzees and forest elephants. Because this area makes up part of the Congo Basin rainforest—a vital global carbon sink, which sequesters more carbon than the Amazon—it is critical for conservation. But the country’s wildlife authority has struggled to effectively protect and manage Bili-Uele due to a dire lack of resources and the extraordinary remoteness of this landscape.

We’ve partnered with the DRC’s wildlife authority (the Institut Congolais pour la Conservation de la Nature, or ICCN) in the Bili-Uele Protected Area Complex since 2016. This work has been primarily supported by the European Union under its ECOFAC 6 Preserving Biodiversity and Fragile Ecosystems in Central Africa Programme.

Our comprehensive approach addresses the range of challenges and opportunities in the landscape, where we uphold a firm commitment to human rights:

  • Supporting law enforcement
  • Investing in protected area infrastructure
  • Developing sustainable livelihoods
  • Creating incentives for sustainable community practices
  • Monitoring wildlife
Bili-Uele Bili-Uere Bomu Wildlife Reserve
National Park
Other State Protected Area

AWF in Action

Infrastructure Support

When necessary, we invest to ensure park personnel have access to essentials like operating bases, offices, water supply, electricity, roads, airstrips, and radio systems. This helps protected-area managers respond quickly and efficiently to incursions and other threats to wildlife and habitat.

See the impact in remote DRC
Photo of AWF new plane Sahara-S in Bili Uele landscape

Climate Change

Africa is key to addressing climate challenges, and protecting nature is an important part of delivering on global adaptation and mitigation goals. By placing nature and conservation values at the core of economic transformation, Africa can lead the way to a more sustainable future through green economies that decouple economic growth and resource consumption. This is important for the long term, as under business-as-usual scenarios Africa is poised to become a much greater carbon emitter. More important, though, is the urgency of delivering climate-resilient pathways to growth for communities on the front lines of the effects of climate change. This means helping them use nature-based solutions to adapt to instability caused by extreme weather, drought, and changing planting zones.

Conservation activities like agroforestry, reforestation, and sustainable land-use planning build community resilience to the effects of climate change and can help to sequester carbon. These activities also deliver other benefits, such as increasing food security, promoting healthy soil, and reducing poverty. Building biodiversity-positive economies and supporting sustainable livelihood training and payment for ecosystem services helps communities sustainably manage forests, watersheds, and the other natural systems we need to survive in the face of climate change.

AWF pursues a range of climate adaptation interventions on the ground across our landscapes, including in the DRC, Cameroon, and Rwanda. This work informs our engagements with leaders at the national, continental, and global levels, where we promote solutions to climate change and build networks that scale our climate message.

Learn more about our approach

Negotiating Space for Wildlife

In approaching landscape-level conservation, we identify targets ranging from the number of endangered species in a landscape to the presence of ecosystem services like clean water. How those targets are distributed guides how the landscape is divided into functional zones—with solutions shaped by communities and other stakeholders through collaborative planning. Locally-led solutions are key to stabilizing and increasing wildlife populations in the long term.

Using data from patrols, ecological monitoring, remote sensing, and satellite imagery, we develop land-use models and apply geographic information systems (GIS) to help local people make sustainable decisions about how to use the land, from conservation planning to development choices. This way, communities reap the rewards of nature without overexploiting it, and both people and wildlife have the space they need to thrive.

See this work in action in the DRC
Bili Uele Forest Landscape

Integrating human rights into conservation work

Our work with communities in the Bili-Uele landscape shows how we fulfill our commitment to uphold a rights-based conservation approach. We’ve codified this commitment in a model policy and standard to which all staff, consultants, sub-grantees, etc., are beholden. Our policy specifically addresses Indigenous peoples and local communities, whose livelihoods are often linked to their lands and who can thrive or suffer as a result of conservation. In Bili-Uele, rights-based training is integrated into eco-guard training and community outreach.

Read about a recent training
Community training

Restoring security within the landscape

Our technical and financial support for joint patrols in Bili-Uele protected areas has led to a greater sense of security. Community members used to walk more than 10 kilometers for food, risking encounters with armed groups; now, they report a greater feeling of ease and freedom of movement. “I am happy to see that efforts made by AWF and its partners to restore security in our area are bearing fruit. Markets are open again and business activities have resumed, making it no longer a problem to get food. Now even my child can go to the market without any worrying about whether he will come back safe and sound or not,” said community member Nyamada Léon.

Learn why the community feels safer
community patrols

Empowering families in Bili-Uele

Community members in Bili-Uele embrace sustainable practices that reduce labor and improve quality of life, and we promote such practices as part of a holistic conservation strategy. In the Bili-Uele landscape, we’re facilitating training in constructing stoves that burn less fuel and produce less smoke, easing the strain on a fragile forest ecosystem while empowering local women. The training is part of a USAID-funded community-based counter wildlife trafficking project designed to improve community livelihoods in Bili-Uele.

Read more
Community members stove making

Sustainable farming to protect the forest

The United States Agency for International Development is collaborating with us through a community-based counter wildlife trafficking project to provide technical support to Bili-Uele farmers interested in migrating from subsistence farming to sustainable agribusiness. Our team runs workshops that address harmful practices such as slash-and-burn agriculture and demonstrate sustainable practices like crop rotation. Alongside training on product marketing, these sustainable agriculture techniques have boosted yields and income for farmers in Bili-Uele—a win-win for a fragile rainforest ecosystem and for farmers.

Learn more about sustainable farming

Fostering a conservation ethic and action

Long-term conservation success depends on developing a corps of future conservation champions, which is why we conduct student outreach in Bili-Uele. Recently In a concession of the Catholic Church of Bili-Uere, 168 senior students from two elementary schools planted 140 quickly growing seedlings to replace palm trees that had long since been uprooted. The pupils were enthusiastic and promised to plant a tree around their homes as a show of support for our work and mission. Earlier, AWF community facilitators had taught elementary school children about agroforestry methods. This activity was a part of that lesson.

Read our history of fostering leadership
community farm

We work with the people of Democratic Republic of Congo for wildlife. Our strategic, implementing and funding partners include:


Parc Agroindustriel de Dingila

Communities in the Bili-Uele landscape

Wildlife We Are Protecting

By the Numbers

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11,000 Square kilometers mapped in community land-use planning, with 4,527 designated as a wildlife corridor

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65% Community members reporting a greater sense of security and ease of movement as of 2022

Antoine Tabu


Antoine Tabu

Country Coordinator-DRC/Deputy Chief of Party