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…
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?
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.
Following four busy and inspirational days of work, the Forum concluded its deliberations. During another bustling day, participants attended thematic sessions and high-level dialogues during the morning. In the afternoon, seven thematic plenaries outlined the main take-home messages from the Forum’s discussions, followed by the official Forum closing plenary.
While 2019 saw a general rise in all types of financial assets, 2020 turned out to be a tumultuous year. The coronavirus pandemic triggered sharp falls in February- March, followed by a sharp rebound from the end of March to the end of August, thanks to unprecedented monetary and fiscal support from the world’s major central banks and governments. The second wave of Covid-19 permitted further corrections in September and October, before a year-end upturn linked to excellent news on the vaccine front.
Through a series of important activities organized at the IUCN World Conservation Congress, COMIFAC, its member countries and partners called on the international community to take coordinated steps to ensure adequate financial flows for the preservation of the Congo Basin’s ecosystems and peatlands as a cost-effective nature-based solution.
Marseille, France, 5 September 2021 (COMIFAC). On the 3rd day of the Congress, the Congo Basin Booth drew over a hundred visitors, including members of governments and dignitaries from the Congo Basin, bilateral donor countries, multilateral financing mechanisms, as well as the general public.