Children of the village of Bamande work hard in the forest carrying heavy planks of wood.
© Jan-Joseph Stok / Greenpeace

The The Future of Forests in Poetry contest organized by Greenpeace Africa in Democratic Republic of Congo, was a great triumph and united many Congolese citizens for a good cause.

2600 poems were written by Congolese youths on the future of their forests, sending strong messages to governments, policy makers, and donors about how important it is to safeguard these forests! Special prizes were awarded to the seven top entrants from both Oshwe and Kinshasa. The highlights of this great event were immortalized in pictures, with beautiful photographs and a video documentary that will be launched at COP 17 later this month.

Greenpeace launched the contest to raise awareness and mobilize young Congolese to fight to preserve their forests.

Open to everyone from 14 - 21 years old, this competition was held in Oshwe in Bandundu Province from 30 September to 12 October and in Kinshasa from 15 to 26 October. Young people in other provinces also participated via e-mail.

As a huge reservoir of carbon and biodiversity, the role of the intact forests of the DRC in slowing down global climate change is well established.

Negotiations on climate change at the first African COP, to be held in Durban, South Africa will focus on the fight against deforestation. It is hoped that the importance of forests in the Congo Basin, which is home to over 60% of the population, will be taken into account.

Through these poems, Congolese youth expressed the thoughts of more than 40 million Congolese who wish to protect their forests - 40 million people who depend on these resources for their survival.

"We need urgent action to protect these forests, not to do so would jeopardize not only the future of these communities but also our own lives, says Loan Tran Thanh, Regional Director of Greenpeace Africa in DRC.

The 2600 poems received are real cries from the heart of youths who see the future of the forest and by extension, their future, being jeopardized by unsustainable forest management.

The time for talk has passed. Governments, policy makers, donors - industrial logging is unable to ensure the development of a country. You need to act now to stop the deforestation that is growing daily!