The Congo Basin is home to the second-largest tropical forest in the world after the Amazon. These forests play a vital role in slowing global warming, providing food and livelihoods to local populations, serving as resources for traditional medicines, supplying drinking water, and many other key functions. Unfortunately, with each passing year, deforestation accelerates due to logging, mining, agriculture, and the production of firewood for a rapidly growing population. Even mobility and operational restrictions due to COVID-19 have not slowed down the negative impacts on the rainforest. However, it is important to highlight the efforts being made at all levels—from village to regional—to reduce these losses and raise awareness of the alternative solutions being implemented in the forestry sector. 

Because rainforest issues cross  borders and countries, this special call focuses on collaborative reporting work. At the Pulitzer Center and the Rainforest Journalism Fund (RJF), we value collaborative reporting efforts, ranging from partnerships among media organizations to collaborations between correspondents and local journalists. Combining strength and bridging networks and areas of expertise can benefit the quality and maximize the impact of reporting projects. 

In this call, a proposal should be a collaborative project where journalists form a team and work together to highlight multifaceted rainforest issues in the region.

Call for proposals

The Congo Basin RJF and the Pulitzer Center are opening a new, special call for grant applications. Staff journalists, freelancers, and outlets are invited to submit a proposal on the threats to the Congo Basin forests and highlight, when possible, resilience solutions to forest ecosystem degradation.

The proposals should consider one of the following themes or issues: 

  • Research and findings on the impact of various studies on government policies in natural resource and forest management. 
  • Illegal  logging. 
  • Impact of COVID-19 on the forestry sector. 
  • Illegal mining and its impact on community health and ecosystems. 
  • Threats of agribusiness on forest ecosystems.
  • Contribution of the work done by environmental NGOs and the funds allocated by various donors to the well-being of local communities. 
  • Resilience solutions developed to address forest ecosystem degradation. 
  • Conflicts between protected area managers and local populations. 
  • Land grabbing and environmental crime.
  • Forestry and environmental regulation and laws.

Applications should be submitted in either English or French. Reports may be produced in any national language. The advisory committee will select a limited number of projects that meet the proposal criteria, with priority given to collaborations that have the potential to reach a broad national and/or regional or international audience. The projects should highlight local voices and have a strong distribution plan that must include a credible project for broad dissemination in influential local and/or regional news media (can be print, online and/or broadcast, or a combination). The plan must include commitment letters from interested editors and publishers working in the news media outlets they propose.

Click here to access the application form.

Criteria for Proposals:

  • Involve collaboration. This can include local and/or Indigenous journalists, or national-international media partnerships.
  • Have strong, extensive, and wide distribution. 
  • Demonstrate attention to editing, reporting, and safety standards (for example, avoiding unnecessary travel and implementing preventive health measures for journalists and communities).
  • Utilize innovative reporting techniques, such as data journalism and multimedia engagement, to build strong stories with minimal pandemic and safety risk to sources.

Eligibility: Grants are open to media outlets, journalists networks, environmental journalists (presenters of environmental programs, leaders of environmental news), photographers, radio producers, and filmmakers.

Applications should be submitted via the form at the link below. The form will require the following information:

  • A description of the proposed project (400 words max), including the following information: topic/focus and its timeliness; methodology (details about coordination, reporting, editing, and information management—particularly in relation to local journalists).
  • Safety plan (if applicable), including risk mitigation (health, physical safety) for the journalist and communities that may be involved in the reporting project, and consideration of ethics issues.
  • Deliverables and distribution plan (200 words max), including publication plan and media partnerships.
  • Preliminary budget estimate, including a basic breakdown of costs. 
  • For the lead journalist: contact information, CV, three work samples, and three professional references.
  • For the rest of the team: description of roles, professional qualifications, and CVs where possible.
  • Letters of commitment from interested partner media or editors. 
  • Applications may also include a more detailed description of the project, but this will be considered as an optional supplement only; 
  • Please note that the advisory committee is particularly keen to support collaborative proposals that can reach a wider audience.

Budget: Up to USD $10,000 maximum award amount for these grants, but depending on project specifics, it may be higher. Budgets can include, for example:

  • Compensation for local journalists.
  • Cost of project coordination/management.
  • Travel and lodging. 
  • Data analysis and visualizations. 

For approved projects, half of the grant amount is generally paid just before the reporting, and the remainder is delivered after submission of the published or broadcasted material. 

Specific grant terms are negotiated during the application process.
Application timeline: The application’s deadline is April 30, 2022. Within a week of your submission, you should receive a confirmation of receipt. Successful applicants will be notified by mid-May.

Apply here

Questions? Contact: Augustine Kasambule ([email protected])