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.
In this 40-minute documentary, filmmaker Luis Leitao explores what deforestation has done to the region and what is now being done to reverse the impact it has had. Luis was born in Portugal, raised in France and has now been living in the UK for 15 years. He has worked for all the major broadcasters, covering subjects such as the arts, current affairs, travel and culture. In producing this film, Luis worked alongside Rainforest Foundation UK.