Biodiversity Conservation – SGTAPFS13: COMIFAC: 13th meeting of COMIFAC’s Central African Protected Areas and Wildlife Sub-Working Group

The COMIFAC Executive Secretariat, Directors of  Wildlife and Protected Areas, Heads of national sub-regional park agencies, as well as COMIFAC’s technical and financial partners, gathered in Libreville from 11 to 15 July 2022 for the 13th meeting of the Protected Areas and Wildlife Sub-Working Group of the Central African Forest Commission (COMIFAC). The meeting was held with technical and financial support from WCS, the European Union as part of ECOFAC 6 and the German technical cooperation through the GIZ Regional Project to support COMIFAC mandated by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development abbreviated BMZ.

In preparation for the 19th Conference of the Parties (CoP19) to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) slated for 14 to 25 November 2022 in Panama and the first African Congress on Protected Areas (APAC) due to take place from 18 to 23 July 2022 in Kigali, Rwanda, the COMIFAC Executive Secretariat organized the 13th meeting of the COMIFAC Protected Areas and Wildlife Sub-Working Group, abbreviated SGTAPFS 13, in Libreville, Gabon.

 

  1. Hervé MAIDOU, Executive Secretary (ES) of COMIFAC and chair of the protocol phase of the workshop, opened the session by invoking a minute of silence in honour of Mr. Raymond Ndomba Ngoye, a former Executive Secretary of COMIFAC who had passed away. After paying tribute, he thanked the attendees for responding positively to the meeting by showing up physically and online. He urged them to do their best to come out of the meeting with a common position that is consistent with the priorities and development policies of the States in the sub-region.

 

Next was the technical session, chaired by the National Coordinator of COMIFAC (CNC) Gabon, assisted by the Director of Forests of the Cameroon Ministry of Forests and Wildlife. To provide context, Mr. Chouaibou Nchoutpouen, the Deputy Executive Secretary of COMIFAC in his capacity as technical expert, provided a brief introduction to SGTAPFS and reported on the status of implementation of the recommendations of the 12th meeting. He also recalled the goals and guidelines for the session.

The discussion then turned to the analysis and validation of a number of documents, both in relation to the European Union's proposed changes to the CITES appendices and to the advancement of indigenous peoples' and local communities' (PACL) traditional knowledge and increasing their involvement in the sustainable management of wild species.

COMIFAC has commissioned research and developed instruments in partnership with technical and financial partners, WCS and the GIZ Regional Project to support COMIFAC, but their uptake is contingent on the stakeholders, or Member States, adopting them.

 

These include the following instruments created in association with the GIZ Regional Project to support COMIFAC:

  1. The sub-regional guide on the FPIC approach to managing protected areas in Central Africa and their surrounding areas ;
  2. The sub-regional Toolbox on respecting human rights in creating and managing protected areas in Central Africa;
  3. The study on the motives behind claims regarding respect for human rights and participation of IPLCs in the creation and management of protected areas in Central Africa.

 

And documents produced in collaboration with ECCAS, COMIFAC, RIFFEAC and WCS, namely:

 

  1. A standard trades and skills reference document for the sub-region;
  2. A standard curriculum and training system for park ranger training in Central Africa;

In addition to COP19 CITES, which is crucial for classifying some species as endangered throughout the sub-region, the plenary session conducted an extensive review of the European Union's suggested appendices to CITES with the following objectives:

 

  1. Inform stakeholders in the sustainable management of Central Africa’s forest ecosystems on the proposed listing of the Khaya spp, Afzelia spp and Pterocarpus spp genera in Appendix 2;
  2. Identify the potential of the targeted species in various COMIFAC member countries (population dynamics, levels of exploitation, sales, and export, threats, etc.);
  3. Collect feedback from COMIFAC member nations on the EU’s proposed amendments;
  4. Adopt the common positions on these proposals for listing the Khaya spp, Afzelia spp and Pterocarpus spp genera in Appendix 2 of CITES.

 

The COMIFAC ES disputed the classification of some of these species and reminded the audience that he had chaired a session on research at the CBFP’s 19th Meeting of the Parties during which CIRAD and Nature+ had shown that some of these species were far from being endangered.

However, Mr. Martial NKOLO, Director of the GIZ Sustainable Management of Congo Basin Forests Program, made a point of emphasizing that the meeting's outcomes deserved special attention as they would shape the future of forest ecosystem conservation in the Central African subregion. He was speaking on behalf of the German Technical Cooperation and the European Union, which had provided the support that had made the meeting possible.

The meeting ended on 15 July 2022 with the reading of the final press release and the decision on the sub-region’s final position in preparation for COP19 CITES and the 1st APAC.

Contact:

BIWOLE Ingrid

Communications Officer

Sustainable Management of Congo Basin Forests Program

GIZ Project to support COMIFAC

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