Science & Capacity Plan

The CBSI Science and Capacity Plan is a long-term framework to understand the Congo Basin as an integrated regional entity while building capacity in the region, so that research is led by scientists from the region.

The CBSI Science and Capacity Plan provides a long-term structure, written by scientists, to drive investments into transforming our knowledge of the ecosystems, wildlife and cultures of the Congo Basin and its contiguous forests, while training hundreds of scientists from Congo Basin countries.

The overarching questions the Science and Capacity Plan will answer, and the broad requirements to build more scientific capacity in the region, were agreed at the Congo Basin Science Meeting in February 2023 in Libreville. A initial draft of the Plan was circulated to 300 active scientists in the Congo Basin region for comment and input, resulting in a community-agreed document.

The Science and Capacity Plan will be regularly updated. Please contact us at if you have feedback, edits or additions to the plan. We expect to release an updated version in January 2024.

The CBSI Science and Capacity Plan has been strongly influenced by the experience of the Long-term Biosphere-Atmosphere Experiment in Amazonia (LBA), a decade-long $200+ million effort that trained hundreds of South American scientists and transformed the understanding of the Amazon rainforest.

Science Plan

An assessment of the physical, biogeochemical, and socio-economic environments of the Congo Basin is needed to understand the climate-forest-water-society system as an integrated whole. This understanding will then be used to model different possible futures for the region under different policy scenarios, identifying future dangers to avoid, and positive outcomes to strive for. This is essential information to allow informed decisions at local, national, regional and international levels.

This new understanding of the region’s ecosystems, economy and people will be built from extensive measurements of the climate, vegetation, rivers, biodiversity, land use, and how people interact with and utilise these ecosystems. These new measurements from across the region form the Congo Basin Climate, Vegetation, Hydrology, Biodiversity, Land Cover and Socio-Economic Observatories. Together these six Observatories form the Congo Basin Regional Observatory.

The Observatory data will be combined with more intensive measurements at a small number of flagship research sites. Here we will develop a detailed mechanistic understanding of the climate-forest-water-society system needed to model future scenarios.

The mechanistic understanding from the flagship sites and Congo Basin Regional Observatory data will be used together to model aspects of the system to enable scientists to explore different policy options and the resulting different futures for the region.

In all cases we build on existing research and data networks, for example, gap-filling when adding new weather stations or hydrological measurements, and investing in existing field sites with expertise and capacity, for the intensive measurements.

Read the CBSI Science and Capacity Plan.

Capacity Plan

The core of the capacity building plan is identifying the barriers to more scientists from the region doing more science, and designing plans to efficiently overcome them. These are bursaries for Masters and PhD students, support for post-doctoral researchers and senior professionals in the most research-intensive universities in the region, and investing in a small number of specialist Centres of Excellence.

The capacity building goes hand-in-hand with increasing our understanding of the Congo Basin region, as the hundreds of scientists being trained are those that collect the new data for the Congo Basin Regional Observatory and the intensive site measurements.

A new generation of professionals is needed to advocate for evidence-led policy in the region. These scientists will also provide the scientific inputs necessary to successfully deliver the innovative policies and actions needed for Congo Basin countries to develop without destruction.

Scientists are also needed to address the technical aspects to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals, Nationally Determined Contribution covering climate-related action, plans to protect 30% of land and oceans under the Global Biodiversity Framework, and goals to improve human health, including the critical emerging issued of avoiding zoonotic diseases.

Read the CBSI Science and Capacity Plan.