Pitfalls and Promises of Congo’s new forest Eldorado – Fern
Logging and conservation projects have spurred rapid development in the Sangha forest region of the Congo. But what’s the human and environmental cost? Laudes Martial Mbon travels to the depths of the Congo Basin rainforest to investigate.
"It is clear then, that outside Pokola, the conservation and logging projects which represent a ‘forest Eldorado’ for some, are negatively impacting the lives of many. The wealth they are generating is not trickling down. What’s more, when it comes to forest protection, the trees are standing - but peoples’ livelihoods, traditions, habitats and culture are being trashed."
Sangha Department, Republic of Congo. Pokola lies 800 kilometres north of Congo’s capital, Brazzaville, on the left bank of a bend in the vast Sangha River.
Before Congo’s independence in 1960, the town was a small, isolated fishing village. Most outsiders knew little of it, or of the Sangha region itself - other than that it was covered by dense primary forest, and winding streams.
Today Pokola’s population numbers 13,000. It’s a place of modern buildings, including a hospital and a school, with internet and free electricity for the entire population, and a distinctly multicultural flavour, as Angolans, Rwandans, Cameroonians and other émigrés mingle with locals.
The driver for this startling transformation is visible through the airplane window on the flight there: forest canopies broken up with heavy, industrial skidding tracks used for transporting logs.
Forests covers 60% of the Congo, which is one of Africa’s most sparsely populated countries, and timber is the country’s second biggest export, after oil. Pokola is a vital hub in this industry: it is home to the headquarters of Congolaise Industrielle Des Bois (CIB), a subsidiary of Singapore’s Olam Group, which manages 2.1 million hectares of Congolese forest, and is considered as the jewel in the company’s crown.
In some ways, CIB’s operations in Pokola represent a model of development for other forestry companies, and it’s no surprise that some local civil society groups want it adopted nationally. But behind this story of economic boom, lies another more complex and cautionary tale: one which holds valuable lessons for logging and conservation projects across Africa.
This prize is a tribute to the entire IPBES community. It recognizes and rewards the efforts of the thousands of scientists and holders of indigenous and local knowledge from all regions of the world who have volunteered their time and expertise to IPBES over the past 10 years.
The recent Dakar meeting of the Eighth Ministerial Conference of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) 2021 marked a significant step in collaborative efforts to combat illegal wildlife trade and develop nature-based solutions to support an African green economy and tackle climate change.
A TRAFFIC report highlights threatened species are still commercially traded in open bushmeat markets despite legal protection in Cameroon and the Republic of the Congo. The report suggests that less protected animal substitutes may be at risk of overexploitation in the future as a result.
Chengdu, China, December 2021 - Chinese online platforms should consider implementing anti-money laundering (AML) ‘follow the money’ approaches to prevent traffickers from exploiting their services for illegal wildlife trade and help catch the wider criminal networks negatively impacting species and ecosystems across the globe.
If waste is dumped far enough from land it cannot cause harm, it was believed for hundreds of years. This led to people using the ocean as a dumping ground for millions of tonnes of waste each year until the 1970s.
The UN General Assembly has designated 2022 the International Year of Sustainable Mountain Development. All governments, international organizations, and stakeholders are invited to use the Year to increase awareness of the importance of conserving and sustainably using mountain ecosystems.
In this edition of the TFU we report on the outcomes of the most recent session of the International Tropical Timber Council, which concluded in early December 2021. Most crucially at the session, Ms Sheam Satkuru, a Malaysian national and the first woman to win the position, was appointed by consensus as ITTO’s next Executive Director. Ms Satkuru is a lawyer by training and has considerable experience in international negotiations and the tropical timber trade.
Antalya, Turkey – The workshop “Development of Project Proposal to Combat Desertification in the Economic Cooperation Organization (ECO) region” took place on 14-16 December 2021, organized by the Republic of Turkey, the General Directorate of Combating Desertification and Erosion, and the Economic Cooperation Organization (ECO). The workshop brought together countries ECO region including Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, Iran, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyz Republic, Pakistan, Tajikistan, Turkey, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan, as well as the representatives of the UNCCD and FAO.
The UN Environment Programme (UNEP) announced the 2021 winners of the Champions of the Earth award, which recognizes environmental leaders from government, civil society, and the private sector. The selected Champions’ projects are expected to reinforce the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration (2021-2030). UNEP notes that neither the SDGs nor the Paris Agreement on climate change can be achieved without reviving ecosystems.
The Adaptation Fund has launched a new USD 10 million pilot small grants programme (Adaptation Fund Climate Innovation Accelerator, AFCIA) to foster innovation in adaptation in developing countries at the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP25) in Madrid. Two of the Adaptation Fund’s accredited Multilateral Implementing Entities (MIEs), the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), have been selected as implementing entities of the AFCIA. The Climate Technology Centre and Network (CTCN) works in conjunction with UNEP, receiving USD 5 million to administrate and aggregate 25 micro-grants projects (up to USD 250,000 each).
Rwanda is set to host the regional headquarters of Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) following a presidential order signed by President Paul Kagame and issued in the national gazette. Founded in 1895, Wildlife Conservation Society is an NGO with headquarters in New York with the aim to conserve the world's largest wildlife and wild places in 14 priority regions home to more than 50 percent of the world's biodiversity.
Decades of declining herbivore populations in central African national parks have conservation scientists arguing that smaller reserves might be better for wildlife. As conservationists press for a major expansion of protected habitat around the world, scientists with years of experience in central Africa say new evidence calls for just the opposite in the region.
This mission will focus on the status of women's rights in the forestry sector legislation applicable in Gabon and support to Gabonese and Congolese civil society through capacity strenghting and gender inclusion.
For decades, Fern and partners have campaigned to strengthen the rights of forest peoples and protect and restore forests. There have been locust years, when things went backwards, and harvest years, when plans come to fruition. Gratifyingly, 2021 was a year in which the forest movement achieved outstanding successes and we enter 2022 energised and ready to defend and build on them.
When in 2010 the world's governments pledged to increase protected area coverage to 17% of the world's land surface, several Central African countries had already set aside 25% of their northern savannas for conservation. To evaluate the effectiveness of this commitment, we analyzed the results of 68 multispecies surveys conducted in the 7 main savanna national parks in Central Africa (1960-2017).
YOKOHAMA, JAPAN, 20 December 2021: The International Tropical Timber Council appointed Ms Sheam Satkuru as the new Executive Director of the International Tropical Timber Organization (ITTO) at its virtual 57th session concluded in early December 2021 and also endorsed a strategic action plan to set the Organization’s path for the next five years.
in this holiday season marking the end of 2021, I wish to express my appreciation and gratitude to you. Your rich and various contributions and your proactive and dedicated involvement have enriched and enhanced the efficacy of our joint partnership. Our fruitful and close collaboration was an overwhelming success internationally and most tangibly during the CoP 26 in Glasgow, UK.
The International Science Council convened a process to reorient funding for scientific research and institutional arrangements to support needed societal transformations. The resulting report sets out a roadmap for the production of actionable knowledge in five areas that pose the most risk to the Earth as a “safe operating space” within ten or 20 years.
The 2021 HLPF convened in a hybrid format from 6-15 July under the auspices of the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC). Leading up to the session, 42 governments had conducted VNRs, and they presented on these processes during the Forum. The DESA report notes that these governments recognized the second year of the pandemic as “a crucial time to conduct a VNR, in order to align their efforts towards a resilient recovery.”
For three scientists who have authored a new book titled Adaptive Collaborative Management in Forest Landscapes: Villagers, Bureaucrats and Civil Society (Routledge, 2022), it represents the conjoining of their disparate but likeminded visions and guiding strategic principles for Adaptive Collaborative Management (ACM) in forest landscapes and resource management.
Secure tenure and effective governance are central to the future of natural resources and agriculture. Although important on their own, tenure and governance are also embedded in the solutions to key global challenges: climate change; environmental management; poverty; gender equity and women’s empowerment; and nutrition and health.
Establishing standards for measuring, monitoring and assigning financial value to forest-related greenhouse gas emissions is a challenging process due to the wide range of variables at play, said delegates attending the COP26 climate summit in Glasgow.
VIENNA, 30 November 2021 – Gerd Müller, Germany’s acting Federal Minister for Economic Cooperation and Development, is set to take office as the new Director General of the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO).
A team of researchers led by the University of Sheffield has discovered that rates of deforestation and degradation in tropical forests are lower in Indigenous lands compared to other areas. The findings, published in Nature Sustainability, show that across the tropics, Indigenous lands had a fifth less deforestation on average compared to non-protected areas, and in Africa, Indigenous Lands reduce deforestation more effectively than protected areas.
The Congo Basin. The Congo Basin is home to 70% of Africa’s forests and is one of the most important places for biodiversity and carbon stocks on the planet—yet only 17% of the area is protected today. Each year, large areas are lost to deforestation, while remaining forests are degraded by logging, mining, agriculture, the building of new roads, fuelwood collection, hunting, and other pressures.
With this newsletter we would like to inform you about some of the current activities of FSC on behalf of the FSC Congo Basin team, and furthermore interest you with the actualities relevant to the tropical timber trade and our network partners.
A press conference was held on Friday 17 December 2021, at 10 a.m. at the Djeuga Palace Hotel to discuss the involvement of COMIFAC countries and partners in COP 26 in Glasgow, UK. This press conference was co-hosted by the CBFP Facilitator of the Federal Republic of Germany, His Excellency Dr. Christian Ruck, and the current Chairman of the COMIFAC Council of Ministers, His Excellency Mr. Jules Doret NDONGO, Minister of Forests and Wildlife of Cameroon.
This report provides a technical analysis of pastoral dynamics in the region to support the development of adaptive management approaches. Rooted in genuine engagement, it presents a series of recommendations for regional actors and NGOs involved in pastoralism.
Cameroonian authorities say clashes between ranchers and fishers have left at least ten people dead and scores wounded Monday, forcing hundreds to flee into neighboring Chad. The clashes in Cameroon’s north broke out over water scarcity, a problem that authorities have struggled to address.