On 19 July 2021, during its 44th session, the World Heritage Committee decided to remove Salonga National Park (Democratic Republic of the Congo) from the List of World Heritage Sites in Danger due to improvements in its state of conservation.
Mystery deepens over animal source of coronavirus - Nature
Pangolins are a prime suspect, but a slew of genetic analyses has yet to find conclusive proof.
Scientists are racing to identify the source of the coronavirus that is causing havoc around the world. Three weeks ago, Chinese scientists suggested, on the basis of genetic analyses, that the scaly, ant-eating pangolin was the prime suspect. But scientists have now examined those data — along with three other pangolin coronavirus genome studies released last week — and say that although the animal is still a contender, the mystery is far from solved.
Public-health officials want to pin down the virus’s source so they can prevent new outbreaks. Scientists assume that the pathogen jumped to people from an animal, as has been seen with other coronaviruses; for example, the virus that causes severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) is thought to have jumped to humans from civets in 2002. Dozens of people infected early in the current outbreak worked in a live-animal market in the Chinese city of Wuhan, but tests of coronavirus samples found at the market have yet to identify a source.
Three separate Chinese teams are trying to trace the origin of the coronavirus, including a group from the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention, and one from the Chinese Academy of Sciences.
Researchers at the South China Agricultural University in Guangzhou suggested pangolins as the animal source at a press conference on 7 February. Pangolins are highly sought-after in China for their meat and their scales; the latter are used in traditional medicine. Although sales of the animal are forbidden in China as part of a worldwide ban, they are still smuggled in from a handful of southeast Asian and African countries. The researchers said they had found a coronavirus in smuggled pangolins that was a 99% genetic match to the virus circulating in people.
But the result did not actually refer to the entire genome. In fact, it related to a specific site known as the receptor-binding domain (RBD), say the study’s authors, who posted their analysis1 on the biomedical preprint server bioRxiv on 20 February. The press-conference report was the result of an “embarrassing miscommunication between the bioinformatics group and the lab group of the study”, explains Xiao Lihua, a parasitologist at the South China Agricultural University and a co-author of the paper. A whole-genome comparison found that the pangolin and human viruses share 90.3% of their DNA.
The RBD is a crucial part of coronaviruses, which allows them to latch on to and enter a cell. Even a 99% similarity between the RBDs of the two viruses is not necessarily enough to link them, says Linfa Wang, a virologist at Duke–National University of Singapore Medical School who was part of the team that found the origin of the SARS virus.
Not close enough
Three similar comparison studies were posted on bioRxiv last week. One of those papers — by an international research group , posted on 18 February — found2 that coronaviruses in frozen cell samples from illegally trafficked pangolins shared between 85.5% and 92.4% of their DNA with the virus found in humans.
Two other papers published on 20 February, from groups in China, also studied coronaviruses from smuggled pangolins. The viruses were 90.23%3 and 91.02%4 similar, respectively, to the virus that causes COVID-19.
The genetic similarity should be higher than reported in these studies before the host can be identified, says Arinjay Banerjee, who studies coronaviruses at McMaster University in Hamilton, Canada. He notes that the SARS virus shared 99.8% of its genome with a civet coronavirus, which is why civets were considered the source. If pangolins are the origin of the current outbreak, says Banerjee, it is not the pangolins in these studies.
So far, the closest match to the human coronavirus has been found in a bat in China’s Yunnan province. A study5 published on 3 February found that the bat coronavirus shared 96% of its genetic material with the virus that causes COVID-19. Bats could have passed the virus to humans, but there are key differences between the RBD sites in the two viruses. This suggests that this specific bat coronavirus did not directly infect people, but could have been transmitted it to people through an intermediate host, say researchers.
The papers raise more questions than they answer, says Jiang Zhigang, an ecologist at the Chinese Academy of Sciences Institute of Zoology in Beijing. He asks, if pangolins are the source of the virus, and they came from another country, why haven’t there been reports of people being infected in that location?
The human-wildlife conflict report: “A future for all: the need for human-wildlife coexistence” was published on July 8, detailing the complex nature of human-wildlife conflict, its impacts and how to address them so that people and animals can coexist peacefully. This pack raises awareness of the report, its significance and encourages people to raise greater awareness on the issue.
Results of the work of the geographical block WEST. Please download the Document here below:
Results of the work of the geographical block WEST. Please download the Document here below:
Results of the work of the geographical block CENTER. Please download the Document here below:
The weather in DS continues to be strange this year. In principle we should be going through a short dry period within the rainy season at the moment, for the rains to restart in August but the reality is that the rainy season has not yet started. There is so much uncertainty on what will happen now.
Green Climate Fund Board approves USD 500 million for new climate action, strengthens its Results Management Framework
The Green Climate Fund (GCF) Board at its twenty-ninth meeting, has allocated USD 500 million in GCF resources for new climate projects, and taken significant steps to strengthen results management for its growing portfolio. During the meeting, four (04) new climate projects were approved and will mobilise a total sum of USD 2,949 million for climate action in Africa, Asia, and Latin America, with three of the four new projects targeting support to the most vulnerable countries including Least Developed Countries, Small Island Developing States, and African states.
The Heads of State and Government of the 30 members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) have adopted NATO 2030, “a transatlantic agenda for the future,” as well as a Climate Change and Security Action Plan. The Action Plan provides a framework to deliver on the Climate Change and Security Agenda endorsed by NATO Foreign Ministers on 23-24 March 2021. The NATO Deputy Secretary-General said the decisions make the fight against climate change an important task for NATO for the first time.
The UNFCCC’s Subsidiary Body for Implementation (SBI) and the Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice (SBSTA) met online for three weeks in June 2021. The two subsidiary bodies held plenaries as well as mandated and Presidency-led events. Delegates also convened informal consultations on a range of issues in the lead up to the Glasgow Climate Change Conference (UNFCCC COP 26), which is scheduled to take place in November 2021.
UN Climate Change News, 25 June 2021 – The progress made at the May-June UN Climate Change Conference leaves the international community “well positioned to achieve success” at the crucial UN Climate Change Conference COP26 in Glasgow in November, according to UN Climate Change Deputy Executive Secretary, Ovais Sarmad.
UN Climate Change News, 29 June 2021 - The UN Climate Change online portal to register Parties, admitted observers and media representatives to attend the UN Climate Change Conference COP26 (31 October – 12 November 2021) in Glasgow is open for participants.
This is the subject of a new book published by the Faculty of Gembloux Agro-Bio Tech of the University of Liege, Nature+ and their collaborators. This book focuses on the species of dense rainforests, capitalizing on the results of past or recent trials in six African countries, and mobilizing the skills and knowledge of thirteen specialists.
Germany - COMIFAC Cooperation: German Ambassador to Congo, alongside parliamentarians, women and youth, for a sustainable management of Central African forest ecosystems
Brazzaville, the capital of the Republic of Congo, hosted a series of three workshops from 14 to 25 June 2021 at the Hotel PEFACO Maya Maya. The first workshop focused on the planning and consultation of the Network of Young Leaders for the Sustainable Management of Central African Forest Ecosystems (REJEFAC), the second on the Network of Parliamentarians for the Sustainable Management of Central African Forest Ecosystems (REPAR) and the third on the African Women's Network for Sustainable Development (REFADD).
Rwanda, the first African country to submit an updated 2020 NDC, is displacing GHG emissions from fossil fuel power generation and expanding energy access to areas not served by the national grid. Rwanda intends to add more than 150 MW of hydro capacity to the grid and install 68 MWp of solar mini-grids in rural areas by 2030.
The Least Developed Countries Fund, the only dedicated source of climate adaptation support for the world’s smallest and most vulnerable economies, will provide more than $60 million to address urgent needs in Bhutan, Central African Republic, Eritrea, Kiribati, Lesotho, Somalia, and Timor-Leste under its latest work program.
Tax and non-tax incentives for sustainable forest management: An opportunity for the Congo Basin countries
The report on Tax and non-tax incentives for sustainable forest management presents an analytical overview of potential incentives for sustainable management of tropical forests as well as possible deterrents. The aim is to help ITTO producer member countries develop incentives that are equally effective and fruitful in promoting the sustainable development of their forests.
Cameroon - Decision: Prime Minister repeals decree expropriating 66,340 hectares of forest in the Ntem Valley (South Region) - Cameroon-info
Joseph Dion Ngute's decision was signed on May 5, 2021. This is the culmination of a case that captivated the nation’s attention in August 2020. In a decree signed on May 5, 2021, Prime Minister Joseph Dion Ngute repealed another decree, dating back from 2016, signed at the time by his predecessor, Philemon Yang, expropriating 66,340 hectares of land in the Ntem Valley, South Region.
During the official opening of the ECOFAC6 Regional Programme’s Steering Committee, (organized in Douala, Cameroon from 4 to 6 May) EU Ambassador, Ms. Rosario Bento-Pais, recalled that the EU invests more than 80 million Euros in the ECOFAC6 Programme. The other 17 million are invested by the partners. Amounting to approximately 100 million Euros, the investment makes ECOFAC6 the largest European environmental programme in Central Africa and a one-of-the-kind initiative in the world.
The meeting held on Monday 3rd May 2021 at the Ministry of Forestry and Wildlife of Cameroon. The Facilitator thanked the Ministry for the positive response it had given to the Declaration of the ECCAS/COMIFAC countries for the forests of the Congo Basin and its periphery.
Gabon - CBFP - The Prime Minister of Gabon receives in audience the Facilitator of the Federal Republic of Germany, Honorable Dr Christian Ruck : The Sustainable Management of Congo Basin Forest Ecosystems in the Spotlight
CBFP Facilitator of the Federal Republic of Germany, Honorable Dr. Christian Ruck, undertook a mission in Gabon from the 9th to the 14th of May 2021. Dr Christian Ruck met in turn with: the Prime Minister; the Minister Delegate for Water, Forests, the Sea and the Environment; the Minister of Agriculture, Livestock, Fisheries and Food; the Vice-President of the ECCAS Commission; the Commissioner for the Environment, Natural Resources, Agriculture and Rural Development; the National Climate Council...
CBFP Facilitator of the Federal Republic of Germany, Honorable Dr. Christian Ruck meets Gabonese civil society
During his mission to Gabon from 09 to 14 May 2021, the CBFP Facilitator of the Federal Republic of Germany, Honorable Dr. Christian Ruck, had a working session with Gabonese civil society accompanied by the German Ambassador to Gabon.
Second mission of the CBFP Facilitator of the Federal Republic of Germany, Honorable Dr. Christian Ruck to Cameroon: Strengthening cooperation Building cooperation
The dynamics of the CBFP in Cameroon, how to enhance the conservation and sustainable management of the forests of the Congo Basin while preserving their vital role for the regional and global climate were at the heart of the political (MINFOF, MINFI, MINEPAT, parliamentarians) and technical discussions.
Special meeting of CBFP private sector college with CBFP Facilitator of the Federal Republic of Germany, Honourable Dr Christian Ruck
Video Conference - May 20, 2021. The CBFP private sector college held a special meeting. Moderated by the Co-Leader of the CBFP private sector college, Ms. Jacqueline Van de Pol (ATIBT), the meeting gathered close to twenty participants.
The swearing-in ceremony of COMIFAC’s statutory staff took place on Friday, 4 June 2021 at 10:00 a.m. at the Hilton hotel in Yaoundé.
CBFP Facilitation Mandate of the Federal Republic of German extended till end of 2022 and Facilitator meets with private sector in Libreville
As the CBFP announced on its website, it will be managed until 2022 by the Facilitation team of the Federal Republic of Germany with Honourable Dr Christian Ruck serving as Facilitator, assisted by the Co-Facilitator, Minister Raymond Mbitikon of the Central African Republic. The Facilitation’s mandate was originally scheduled to end in 2021.
CBFP Facilitator from the Federal Republic of Germany, Honourable Dr Christian Ruck in talks with REPAR parliamentarians
Thursday, 06 May 2021: Starting from 11:45 am, a luncheon was held in the Safoutier Hall of the Hilton Hotel between the Congo Basin Forest Partnership (CBFP) Facilitator of the Federal Republic of Germany and the Cameroonian Delegation of the Network of Parliamentarians for Sustainable Management of Forest Ecosystems in Central Africa (REPAR-Cameroon).
Representatives of 184 countries have approved a new work program for the Least Developed Countries Fund, which together with the Special Climate Change Fund has provided more than $2 billion to date for the urgent climate resilience needs of small and vulnerable economies.
Making Voluntary Partnership Agreements (VPAs) work for forests, people and the climate: Civil society recommendations on the future of VPAs
The briefing reflects on progress after a decade of implementation including looking at multi stakeholder participation, increased transparency and reduced illegal deforestation. It suggests concrete ways to address challenges and step up current efforts including increased enforcement of just laws, enhanced policy coherence, and inclusive decision making. If the proposed changes are taken on board, VPAs will continue to effectively contribute to governance improvements, forest protection and sustainable local livelihoods.
The Forest Scientific and Technical Council (CST Forêt) of AFD has a new website that presents its activities and provides users with numerous resources and news. Created in 2019 by AFD and led by GRET, the CST aims to enhance French and Francophone expertise in the forestry sector in order to inform policymakers.
The first training activity of the ADEFAC project will start in August in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Last week, from Sunday 30 May until Friday 4 June, the main technical assistant, Jacqueline LARDIT, and the project manager, Elise MAZEYRAC, of the projet to Support the development of continuous education for the forest and wood sector in Central Africa (ADEFAC) were on mission in Kinshasa, where the were received by the Wood industrials federation (FIB).
The month of May has already ended and the rainy season has not yet started. Although it has rained some days, it is just a few days compared to a normal year and the level of the Sangha River remains relatively low...
Central African countries' commitments to landscape restoration have the potential to deliver about three times more the climate benefits of all GCF allocations to date… These Central African commitments represent 24% of global commitments and 28% of African countries' commitments under the Bonn challenges...
The Central African Forests Observatory (OFAC) presents an updated assessment of the state of protected areas in the ten member countries of the Central African Forests Commission (COMIFAC). Join us on 29 June 2021, 11:00 AM dans Bruxelles for the launch of this publication. Interpretation English-French will be available.
4 June 2021, Nairobi/Rome - Leaders in global politics, science, communities, religion and culture joined hands today to officially kick off the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration - a rallying call for the protection and revival of millions of hectares of ecosystems all around the world for the benefit of people and nature.
Today's World Environment Day sees the start of the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration, as declared by the United Nations General Assembly for the period 2021 to 2030. It follows the UN Decade on Biodiversity which came to an end in 2020. The goal in the coming decade is to halt the ongoing degradation of ecosystems and begin their restoration. Federal Environment Minister Svenja Schulze will give a video message at a high-level virtual event organised by Pakistan, host of this year's World Environment Day, to mark the launch of the new UN Decade