The aim of this short briefing paper is to provide some basic information about the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) in order to help visitors better understand the context of this DRC field dialogue. We therefore review its forest sector, and the main laws regulating its management and use, and the overall legal framework linked to the potential application on the ground of the concept of Free, Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC). In particular the paper summarizes the key elements of the DRC’s REDD programme, including the kinds of REDD pilot projects already underway across the country, and highlights some of our own perspectives about the key risks and challenges to making REDD work for local and indigenous peoples. This broad overview is targeted to people from outside the DRC, and is intended to encourage discussion and debate, and to help set the scene for the visit to the Luki Reserve. The views presented in this paper are the authors alone, who are responsible for any incorrect information – and we welcome all feedback in order to improve our work to support forest communities to benefit from the outcomes of investments in REDD projects.