I want to thank the authors for their dedicated and high-quality work that went into the production of these studies, as well as UNIQUE consulting for their tireless and engaged support, which made all of them possible. The studies provide valuable and urgently needed insights into some of the most pressing issues in central African forest policy. But they also show up opportunities and solutions for the future of the beautiful tropical forests of the Congo Basin, which are of such immense value, as the second great green lungs of the world, to all of humanity
Central African forests are unequally vulnerable to global change
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An international study coordinated by researchers from IRD and CIRAD reveals the composition of the tropical forests of Central Africa and their vulnerability to the increased pressure from climate change and human activity expected in the coming decades. Thanks to an exceptional dataset - an inventory of over 6 million trees across five countries - the researchers have produced the first continuous maps of the floristic and functional composition of these forests, allowing them to identify the most vulnerable areas. The results were published in Nature on April 21th 2021.
Central Africa is home to the world's second-largest area of dense tropical rainforest. This major reservoir of biodiversity stretches out over five main countries: Cameroon, Gabon, the Republic of Congo, the Democratic Republic of Congo and the Central African Republic. It provides numerous ecosystem services, such as regulating exchange cycles between the earth and the atmosphere, and helps to ensure food supply for local populations. Due to the threats from climate change and demographic pressure expected in Africa by the end of the 21st century, the protection and sustainable management of these forests is a challenge for policy makers. It requires better knowledge of these ecosystems, in particular their composition and vulnerability to the changes under way.
Mapping forest composition and vulnerability
During the study, the researchers worked with forestry consultants and logging companies to compile a new inventory dataset of 6 million trees on over 185,000 plots of land. They first modelled and mapped the floristic and functional composition* of Central African forests and calculated their vulnerability, taking account of the different climate scenarios of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and the United Nations’ population projections for the end of the century.
“The forest area of Central Africa is far from being a homogeneous green carpet . It is home to a wide variety of forests with different characteristics, including their own particular carbon storage capacity ,” explains Maxime Réjou-Méchain, an ecologist at IRD and first author of the study. “This diversity can be explained by the different types of climate (humidity, temperature, evapotranspiration rate, amount of rainfall) and soils, as well as by the history of the African flora and the degree of human activity that has disturbed the forests for thousands of years, such as shifting agriculture” .
The researchers then showed that some areas may be more sensitive to climate change than others. For example, “the forest margins in the north and south of the region, the Atlantic forests and most of those in the Democratic Republic of Congo, which is home to more than half of Central Africa’s forests, are among the most vulnerable” explains Professor Bonaventure Sonké, a botanist at the University of Yaoundé 1 and co-author of the study.
* The functional characteristics taken into account included wood density, dominant foliage type (deciduous or evergreen) and maximum tree diameter.
Gradient of vulnerability of Central African forests to climate change and increased human pressure by 2085.
The purple areas are the most vulnerable to climate change and human pressure; the green areas are the least vulnerable to both; the blue areas are very vulnerable to climate change and not very vulnerable to human pressure and vice versa for the orange areas.
© Maxime Réjou-Méchain et al., Nature.
Improving strategies for adaptation to climate change
The maps and data used for this study, available online on the CIRAD data repository, provide useful information for scientists on the functioning of forests and their dynamics and carbon storage potential.
“The diversity of forest types in Central Africa offers a wide range of potential responses to global changes. It is therefore an essential element to take into account in the framework of sustainable management policies and the fight against climate change ”, says Pr. Alfred Ngomanda, an ecologist at CENAREST (Gabon) and co-author of the study.
“These results must now be used and applied to develop land use plans that preserve forest characteristics while maintaining connections between protected zones through sustainably managed timber production forests. In places where human pressure is too great, managers could re-establish these connections through biodiversity restoration programmes or the development of agroforestry ”, concludes Sylvie Gourlet-Fleury, a forest ecologist at CIRAD and one of the main coordinators of the study.
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Sub-regional forum of traditional chefferies and local actors of the transfrontal transhumance in favour of the construction of a dialogue (Nigeria, Central Africa, Chad, Cameroon), Rey-Bouba (Cameroon) from 25 to 28 October 2021
The GIZ Support Project to the BSB YAMOUSSA complex, in collaboration with the Lamidat of Rey Bouba, proposes to organize a sub-regional forum of direct local actors of transboundary transhumance and traditional stakeholders from the grassroots communities, with a view to exchanging, sharing experiences and reflecting on the construction of dialogue in favour of a peaceful transhumance.
42 NGOs alarmed at the EU for possibly abandoning the fight against illegal logging and failing forested countries - FLEGT
In this letter to the Slovenian and French Presidencies of the EU, 42 civil society networks and organisations from countries across Africa, Asia, Europe, and South America call on the European Union (EU) to strengthen support to the Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade (FLEGT) Regulation and its Voluntary Partnership Agreements (VPAs), the EU’s key legal instruments to fight illegal logging, and the associated trade.
This is a second polite reminder to let you know we are conducting an anonymous evaluation funded by the World Resources Institute (WRI) of forest monitoring information and tools, and their usefulness, with a particular focus on Global Forest Watch (GFW), and stakeholder perspectives.
The German CBFP Facilitation has commissioned a package of 6 thematic studies on pertinent issues in Congo Basin forest politics (namely REDD+ in the Congo Basin, Land Use Planning, Transhumance, Ecotourism, Sustainable value chains, China´s role in Central African forestry) as well as an overarching synthesis study. Each study consists of a full study report as well as a short policy brief. Please download the CBFP Study Package…
Protecting the forests of the Congo Basin: Synthesis report of studies conducted during the German Facilitation of the CBFP in 2021
...In addition to this effort at the global policy level, the facilitation commissioned six thematic studies related to specific opportunities and challenges for the forests of the Congo Basin and the people who depend directly on the products, biodiversity and ecosystem services the forests provide. The six studies and a policy brief for each study were prepared between December 2020 and August 2021. They focus on the following topics...
Over the last 10 to 15 years, China has increasingly taken note of the potential environmental and forest impacts of its overseas trade, investment and other economic activities. However, timber trade between China and Africa has so far not met the requirements of international legality and sustainability standards. Furthermore, China is highly involved in investment and construction of infrastructure projects that may have caused forest conversion due to a lack of comprehensive, effective management measures and a lack of environmental impact analyses.
Tourism in the Congo Basin Rainforests: How to accelerate tourism and make it regionally sustainable- CBFP
This study was performed with the intent of understanding the challenges to developing eco-tourism in the Congo Basin, and of identifying actions and recommendations to overcome these challenges. A background study of the existing literature, research articles, reports and national strategies (where available) was performed to ascertain the political strategies and academic understanding of ecotourism in the region.
Conclusions and outlook: Adapted local LUP processes can serve as a foundation for securing tenure, reducing social conflicts between external and local actors, or even within forest adjacent communities meeting the SDGs, implementing REDD+ and operationalizing the many commitments to zero deforestation commodity production.
The Dynamics and Impacts of Transhumance and Neo-Pastoralism on Biodiversity, Local Communities and Security: Congo Basin - CBFP
This study was carried out to shed light on issues related to this activity and provide basic knowledge of various aspects relating to livestock rearing, neo-pastoralism and unsustainable transhumance. The study area covers the Sudano-Sahelian region of Africa – specifically, the area stretching from the northern fringes of the Congo Basin (Cameroon, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the Central African Republic) and the south-eastern part of the southern Lake Chad Basin, namely the Sudano-Guinean savanna mosaics. The methodology adopted was to collect data from various sources, including from key stake-holders and literature review.
Promoting sustainable value chains in the Congo Basin: An analysis and set of recommendations based on three case studies in producing and importing countries – CBFP Study
The first case study is dedicated to the spectacular policy announcement by Gabon that it would make FSC timber certification mandatory from 2022 onwards for all concessionaires willing to keep operating in the country. Such certification is relatively advanced in Gabon and this unprecedented policy stands as an intriguing and promising example in the region. The second case study relates to a prominent approach that has emerged and grown over the last decade, namely corporate zero-deforestation commitments. This is complementary to the first case study as it refers to a process initiated by the private sector itself, and we apply it to the oil palm sector in Cameroon. For the third case study, we move to the importation side of things with the most advanced policy effort to take action in consuming countries, namely the French National Strategy against Imported Deforestation (SNDI).
The report draws on a thorough review of the available literature. It is complemented by 21 semi-structured anonymous interviews with key REDD+ experts. The authors conducted the interviews between November 2020 and February 2021. Interview partners include represent-atives of Congo Basin countries, donor states, academia, NGOs and independent technical experts. Instead of going to lengths in elucidating the entire range of options for reducing deforestation and forest degradation, the study report lists concrete courses of action which might be pursued in the future.
Replenishment ambitions, IUCN highlights, and updates from across the partnership | October 2021 Newsletter
To read: Governments meet to consider ambitious GEF replenishment; GEF CEO statement for side event at UN General Assembly; GEF supports innovative Food Securities Fund; 'You cannot see forests in isolation'…
Berlin, Germany, 07 September 2021 - Congo Basin Forests Day: Presenting the Statement, Common Position on a "Fair Deal" for the conservation of tropical forests and signing of a Memorandum.
Africa's priorities within the African Group of Negotiators on Climate Change (AGN) were set out in July 2021 just after the Bonn Climate Conference (UNFCCC inter-sessional). These priorities are as follows...
UN Climate Change News, 17 September 2021 – UN Climate Change today published a synthesis of climate action plans as communicated in countries’ Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs). The NDC Synthesis report indicates that while there is a clear trend that greenhouse gas emissions are being reduced over time, nations must urgently redouble their climate efforts if they are to prevent global temperature increases beyond the Paris Agreement’s goal of well below 2C – ideally 1.5C – by the end of the century.
UN Climate Change News, 30 September 2021 – Africa Climate Week 2021 wrapped up this week with Virtual Thematic Sessions helping to set the scene for more ambitious regional action to tackle climate change ahead of the upcoming UN Climate Change Conference COP26 in Glasgow in November.
UN Climate Change News, 5 October 2021 – Faith leaders representing the world’s major religions yesterday joined scientists at the Vatican to call on the international community to raise their ambition and step up their climate action ahead of the UN Climate Change Conference COP26 in November in Glasgow. Almost 40 faith leaders signed a joint Appeal, which was presented by Pope Francis to COP26 President-Designate, the Rt Hon Alok Sharma, and the Italian Minister for Foreign Affairs, Hon. Luigi Di Maio.
Dear Stakeholder. We are conducting an anonymous evaluation funded by the World Resources Institute (WRI) of forest monitoring information and tools, and their usefulness, with a particular focus on Global Forest Watch (GFW), and stakeholder perspectives.
Bonn, 28 September 2021 – The winners of prestigious 2021 Land for Life Award of the United Nations have been honored at an international forum for their innovation in land restoration and conservation methods that promote the well-being of communities and improve their relationship with nature.
Bonn, 29 September 2021 – Two new guidance documents have been released today: a revised and upgraded version of Good Practice Guidance for Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) indicator 15.3.1 and new Good Practice Guidance for national reporting on UNCCD strategic objective 3.
The Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI) has published a report providing a global assessment of transboundary climate risks in agricultural commodity flows. Its authors explain that the material risk posed to food security, particularly in low-income, import-dependent countries, is such that adaptation to transboundary climate risk becomes a matter of public policy.
The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has released its annual Goalkeepers Report, which tracks progress on 18 SDG indicators and reflects on trends influencing the Goals. In the introduction to the 2021 Goalkeepers report, titled ‘Innovation and Inequity,’ Bill Gates and Melinda French Gates write that the past year has shown that “progress is possible but not inevitable. The effort we put in matters a great deal.” The report aims to highlight learnings from the successes and failures of the pandemic so far.
A new study conducted by scientists from the Center for International Forestry Research and World Agroforestry (CIFOR-ICRAF), and partner organizations shows that charcoal producers have little or no support to engage in the replanting of trees, which could lead to a lower rate of deforestation in the already tree-scarce areas where most charcoal is produced.
The World Health Organization (WHO) and UN partners have published a compendium of 500 actions to reduce death and diseases driven by environmental risk factors. The publication states that almost 25% of deaths worldwide could be prevented by fully implementing these actions.
The vast forests of the world’s largest tropical island are populated by exotic birds of paradise, kingfishers, parrots, raptors and pigeons – these species representing just a handful of almost 750 that have so far been identified.
Governments, companies and other organizations offered more than 200 commitments at the world’s first food systems summit aimed at addressing unequal access to food in a more sustainable, healthier and equitable way.
The latest ‘Still Only One Earth’ policy brief from IISD looks back at when “the world was struck with fear” in 1985 after scientists discovered a massive hole in the ozone that forms a protective layer over the Earth. The brief reviews the steps taken to heal the ozone layer through two intergovernmental agreements – the Vienna Convention for the Protection of the Ozone Layer and the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer – and what else must be done. It also highlights lessons for addressing climate change.
Appeal made for international commitment to protecting the Congo Basin ecosystems and their vicinity at the IUCN World Conservation Congress
Jointly organized by COMIFAC, CBFP, GIZ, CAFI and IUCN, as part of the Congo Basin Special Day at the World Conservation Congress, a high-level session on the Congo Basin, was held from 2:30 p.m. to 3:15 p.m on 05/09/2021., at the SPACE CENTER, Exhibition HALL 3.
In a world emerging from the COVID-19 pandemic, the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) World Conservation Congress successfully highlighted the dual existential crises the planet faces: climate change and biodiversity collapse.
The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) summit ended in Marseille on Friday, September 10, 7 days after its inauguration. A number of ATIBT members participated, sometimes with a stand. It was above all a return to direct meetings between many people who had only seen each other through screens for many months!
Dubai WoodShow has been the leading trade show for the wood and woodworking machinery sectors since 2005. The show has established its position in the Middle East region as the most dynamic platform for the wood and woodworking professionals.
Deforestation continues at a worrying pace worldwide, except in temperate and boreal countries. It is caused by the race for land, underpinned by population growth and rising global demand for “deforestation-prone” products. Moreover, with climate change, mega-fires are now posing unprecedented threats to forests.
The Marseille Manifesto aims to capture a limited number of key messages that are globally and currently relevant and which relate to the Congress proceedings, including any notable and important commitments and announcements that emerged from Congress events. The focus is on the post-Covid recovery, the biodiversity crisis and climate emergency.
A second high-level session on the protection of the Congo Basin: Representatives of bilateral donor countries come together to help protect forests and wetlands in the green heart of Africa at the World Nature Congress
Jointly organized by COMIFAC, the CBFP, GIZ, CAFI and the IUCN, as part of the Congo Basin Special Day at the World Conservation Congress, a second high-level session on the preservation of the Congo Basin’s ecosystems took place on 05/09/2021 at 6:00 p.m. local time at the PAVILLON NATURE BASE SOLUTION, Exhibition HALL 3.