Conflict and environmental degradation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo are interrelated and complex. The authors conducted a case study of a community-based environmental restoration project in Eastern Congo and provide early results which suggest a link between community environmental action and multidimensional outcomes such as peace and reconciliation. The project examined in this study is based on a framework (Theory of Change) which networks communities through autonomous savings groups, churches, mosques, schools, and a community leadership network with the goal of catalyzing sustainable farming, reforestation, and community forest management. The primary project input was training, and the resulting voluntary community action included tree planting and the management of common forest areas. A mixed-methods approach was used to evaluate project results comparing two watersheds, and included a difference in differences analysis, participatory workshops, remote sensing analysis, and community activity reports. Positive change was observed in the treatment watershed in terms of ecosystem health and household economic condition. Results suggest a possible influence on peace conditions which, while fragile, offers hope for continued restorative action by communities. This study provides evidence that a community-based approach to environmental restoration may have a positive influence on multidimensional issues such as forests, watershed health, economic well-being, and peace.
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