A social policy in favour of local populations and indigenous peoples

A social policy in favour of local populations and indigenous peoples

Rougier is committed to preserve and enhance traditional customs and know-how throughout its various forest concessions in the Congo Basin. Participatory management methods are in the centre of this commitment. Rougier’s social policy in favour of populations living in or on the outskirts of forest concessions has as its overall objective to conciliate forest harvesting operations with the preservation of these populations’ traditional rights, customs and know-how.


The tool employed in order to reach this objective, is the system of participatory social mappingwhich organises the coexistence between the different activities (harvesting operations and traditional activities) at the level of each annual allowable cut.  The way forest areas are used by the different villages directly concerned is documented and all sites and important activity indicators for village communities are defined in the field and on the maps. This layer of information is integrated in the geographical information systems (harvesting mapping tools) in such a way as to make sure that harvesting operations are carried out in accordance with management methods defined in a participatory manner with the populations, thus creating the best conditions for good forest management.


The first stage in this work is the consciousness-raising of local populations and indigenous peoples. Meetings with the communities are held in order to understand traditional customs in a better way.A detailed inventory of concerned areas and important sites is carried out on every annual allowable cut with representatives from all the communities. Collected data are precisely inventoried and mapped in such a way as to define living areas, agricultural land, hunting areas, fishing rivers, ritual, cultural or sacred sites and activities carried out.


All sacred sites or sites of particular importance to the populations are concretised in the field and protective measures are taken for their preservation during harvesting operations.  All collected data result in the elaboration of thematic maps for each village (map of village land and traditional customs, map of important sites).  Maps are designed by using keys and signs that the populations may easily recognise and delivered to each village in a participatory way. Management rules are then proposed, discussed and approved by memoranda of understanding between the populations and the company.  In this way, the involvement of local populations and indigenous peoples in the whole decision-making process, allows them to express their free consent in the form of memoranda of understanding, thus fixing the rules of forest management in the concerned areas.   


After decisions have been approved and endorsed, an important work to raise the awareness of company workers will be carried out in order to ensure the entire implementation of previously defined measures of protection and management (felling prohibition for certain trees, buffer zones around sacred sites, etc.).