The First Congress on Communal Forests in Central Africa Drafts a Regional Strategy for the Development of Communal Forest within COMIFAC
In this International Year of Forests, the First Congress on Communal Forests in Central Africa discussed many themes reflecting the role of decentralized bodies in resource management, economic development, better governance, investment needs and communication.
Yaoundé (Cameroon), 03 to 6 May 2011 – Holding of the First Congress on Communal Forests in Central Africa. About 300 participants attended, including: representatives of local governments, the Ministry of Forests and the Environment, and COMIFAC coordinators in each member State involved in a process of decentralized management of natural resources or interested by a communal forest creation project. Also attending was representatives of urban communities or REPAR (MPs Network for the Sustainable Management of Forest Ecosystems in Central Africa) members, institutional, financial and technical partners in forest-environment and decentralisation related sectors in Central Africa, international organisations, bilateral and multilateral cooperation donors, actors of decentralized cooperation, implementation bodies, consultancy firms and representatives of the civil society.
This Congress will be a platform for the exchange of opinions and experiences, and for the formulation of recommendations to be implemented at national and sub-regional levels. It even gave the representative of forest councils the opportunity to present an overview of the state of forests and forestry in councils, in order to identify trends, adapt policies and raise awareness among decision-makers, the public and concerned parties. Thus, as a major international event in the domain, this congress aims at promoting forest governance by local authorities in Central Africa in the context of decentralization and global warming control, in accordance with COMIFAC convergence plan and Copenhagen COP 15 commitments (REDD+).
A good number of CBFP members attended the congress and Canada (CBFP Facilitating country) High Commissioner was pleased with the fact that the holding of the congress in view of the 9th CCR of the Congo Basin Forest Partnership scheduled in Bujumbura from 25 to 27 May 2011 was an opportunity to sensitize partners to the need to promote and advertise African initiatives to create and manage communal forests and consistent strategy to organize forest councils and identify other regional initiatives. In his speech, he highlighted the role of the CBFP, also stressed the second point of the roadmap of the Facilitation concerning support to COMIFAC and local partners and insisted on the involvement of COMIFAC ES and national coordinators in the promotion of communal forestry. CBFP Facilitation can encourage the participation of council partners in ongoing negotiations on the REDD+. Finally, the third point of this roadmap concerns the strengthening of governance and CBFP assets through coordination, information sharing and members mobilization.
In this International Year of Forests, the first congress on communal forests in Central Africa first discussed themes related to character, the originality and the relevance of communal forest governance; case studies, exposés on experiences and good practices in each member state. Secondly, participants discussed the comparative state of national strategies concerning modalities governing the access of councils to forest ownership, the respective role of councils and communities in forest management, the role of forest administration, funding mechanisms reflecting the diversity of world forests: economic development, better governance, biofuels opportunities for foresters, investment needs, communication... The third strong point of the congress was the visit of a communal forest and a working session with the town council. This enabled participants to have a tangible experience of the sustainable management of communal forests and of their contribution to poverty eradication. Finally, based on group work, participants formulated a draft regional strategy for the identification of regional pilot projects.
At the end of the congress, delegates of the first congress on communal forests which held in Yaounde published a series of recommendations.
Fotograph: @ SE COMIFAC