Central African forests essential, and need more support for ecological role – forestsnews
As climate change and global heating approach critical points of no return, experts gathered in Seoul at the World Forestry Congress to assess an often overlooked but increasingly important resource for limiting carbon emissions— the forests of Central Africa.
“At the very heart of the forests of Central Africa is their ecosystems and their management,” said Robert Nasi, managing director for the Center for International Forestry Research and World Agroforestry (CIFOR-ICRAF), in a presentation at a side event. “If we want to achieve the objectives of Glasgow — or COP 26 — we must know the state of these forests and stay committed.”
Coinciding with the release of the State of the World’s Forests 2022 by the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the session centered on newly released findings from the Congo Basin Forests: State of the Forests 2021 report recently published by the Central African Forest Observatory (OFAC).
Spanning roughly 240 million ha, 89 million ha of them primary forests, Central Africa’s forests extend across six countries and include the Cuvette Central peatlands — a vital carbon sink — and the Congo Basin — the world’s second-largest rainforest. The forests are rich in biodiversity, with thousands of endemic species of plants and wildlife. Also in the mix are local communities and Indigenous groups that value the landscape culturally and for their food and livelihoods.
However, recent threats have emerged with agricultural plantations, logging, mining, and charcoal production among the activities driving deforestation. One study determined that Central Africa has lost more than 6 million hectares of humid primary forest since 2001, or the equivalent of 6 million rugby fields.
“We have a dynamic of deforestation and degradation that continues to increase in the Central African basin,” said Verina Ingram, a researcher and associate professor at Wageningen University & Research. “If this continues, 27 percent of Central Africa’s undisturbed rainforests present in 2020 will be gone by 2050.”
“Currently, despite their comparatively smaller area, the undisturbed forests of Africa absorb more carbon per ha than those in the Amazon basin,” added speaker Phillippe Mayaux, team leader for biodiversity and ecosystems at DEVCO.
Their remarks underscored the importance of addressing the pressing issues identified in The State of Central Africa’s Forests. Prepared in 2021 by the Central African Forests Commission (COMIFAC) and the Congo Basin Forest Partnership , the report assesses the natural and socio-economic health of Central Africa’s tropical forests.
Echoing the report’s findings, Richard Eba’a Atyi, regional convener for Central Africa for CIFOR-ICRAF, said:
“There are three major challenges in the management of forests in Central Africa. The first is the issue of land use planning. The second is the restoration of forest landscapes and ecosystems as part of the U.N. Decade on Ecosystem Restoration 2021-2030. The third is ensuring the rights of local populations and Indigenous people in all forest management policies and conservation plans.”
Against this backdrop, several speakers recommended ways to better support the forests of Central Africa at the policy level and through action on the ground including:
Using satellites to monitor forest distribution and carbon stocks in hard-to-reach areas
Collecting and synthesizing regional-level data
Ensuring government transparency and accountability on land restoration and carbon sequestration goals
Aligning land restoration between countries and across borders
Involving local communities in land use management
Monitoring for zoonotic and infectious diseases
Combatting deforestation in commodity production
Reforesting areas that have been degraded
Involving regional governments in negotiations on certifications in supply chains
Implementing UN REDD+ projects
Substantially boosting financing from the private sector, foundations and donors
In one promising development, at the COP26 climate summit in Glasgow last fall donors pledged $1.5 billion to support forest protection and management in the Congo Basin.
But more needs to be done to ensure Central Africa’s forests put an emergency brake on climate change.
Said Hervé Maidou, COMIFAC executive secretary, “The forests of Central Africa and the Congo Basin are most important globally for the sequestration of carbon and in maintaining planetary climate balance.”
The meeting between the CBFP Facilitator of the Federal Republic of Germany, Honorable Dr. Christian Ruck, and the members of the College of International NGOs of the CBFP took place this Tuesday, March 7, 2023, without taboos and with an open heart.
On Wednesday, February 8 at 15.00 CET (Berlin, Brussels, Kinshasa Time) on MS Team, the partners and co-leaders of the Eastern Block of the follow-up of the implementation of the N'Djaména Declaration on Transhumance held their first coordination meeting of the year 2023. This meeting followed the meeting of the Central block on Tuesday, January 31, 2023.
On Wednesday, March 8, at 3:00 p.m. (Yaoundé time) on MS Team, in anticipation of the end of the German CBFP Facilitation scheduled for July 2023, and with a view to preparing the handover from the German Facilitation to the France-Gabon Co-Facilitation, the Facilitator of the Federal Republic of Germany, Honorable Dr. Christian Ruck, held a meeting with the members of the Intergovernmental College and Multilateral Institutions of the CBFP.
Bujumbura, March 14, 2023, The CBFP Facilitator from the Federal Republic of Germany, Honorable Dr. Christian Ruck, took the floor at the 11th Ordinary Session of the Council of Ministers of the Central African Forest Commission (COMIFAC), held from March 14 to 17, 2023 in Bujumbura, Burundi. The council was organized by COMIFAC in close collaboration with the Burundian Ministry of Environment, Agriculture and Livestock, and with the financial support of the German cooperation through the GIZ project.
Bujumbura, Burundi, March 17, 2023 - The opening of the ministerial segment of the eleventh COMIFAC Council of Ministers was marked by the handover ceremony of the Chairmanship between the Republic of Cameroon, outgoing Chair, and the Republic of Burundi, incoming Chair, represented by Pr Sanctus NIRAGIRA, Minister of the Environment, Agriculture and Livestock of the Republic of Burundi in the presence of the Prime Minister, Head of Government Lieutenant General Gervais NDIRAKOBUCA, Heads of Institutions, Ambassadors of COMIFAC member countries, technical and financial partners, regional and international organizations, and the business community.
On Wednesday, 1st of March 2023 from 12:00 to 13:30, the strategy meeting of the international coalition "Biodiversity Corridors in Africa" took place during the One Forest Summit. Please download below the minutes in English and French.
Bujumbura, Republic of Burundi, March 14, 2023 - The experts' segment of the 11th session of the Council of Ministers of the Central African Forest Commission (COMIFAC) was opened by Prof. Sanctus NIRAGIRA, Minister of Environment, Agriculture and Livestock of the Republic of Burundi.
The Wildlife Conservation Society Central African Republic Program is deeply saddened by the death of Mr. Éric Rama Doungous, Ecoguard team leader and head of the Base Vie location in Bamingui. He died Monday, March 20, after he and his team, on patrol in the western sector of Bamingui-Bangoran National Park, were ambushed by armed bandits.
Bujumbura, Republic of Burundi, March 13-14, 2023 - The sub-regional workshop on the results of the 27th Conference of the Parties (COP) under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) ended today.
Organized by KfW on the occasion of the mission in Yaounde of the CBFP Facilitator of the Federal Republic of Germany, Honorable Dr. Christian Ruck, this meeting was in line with the meetings of the Consultation Circle of MINFOF and MINEPDED Partners (CCPM), whose activities were re-launched after a slowdown due mainly to the COVID crisis. It took place on Tuesday, January 25, 2022 at Hotel La Falaise in Yaoundé, still within the framework of the visit of the CBFP facilitator to Cameroon.
"Since March 1, 2023, the United Kingdom has taken over the chairmanship of the Central African Forest Initiative, CAFI, following Germany. The UK's new role in CAFI follows on from the work done at the COP26 summit in Glasgow, Scotland, which highlighted the importance of the Congo Basin.
As the world races to mitigate global warming, agricultural expansion generally characterized by the practice of slash and burn has been identified as the topmost driver of deforestation that leads to carbon emission in the world’s largest carbon sink. In a new report titled Congo Basin Forests – State of the Forests 2021 produced by the Central Africa Forest Observatory (OFAC), experts say population growth puts fresh pressure on the forests of Central Africa and consequently reduce carbon stock as thousands of arrival of agrarian households into forest areas leads to clearing to establish farmlands. The experts also listed logging, territorial development, land use, governance and need for energy as other factors driving deforestation.
The Green Climate Fund (GCF) and Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH have signed an agreement with the Government of Lao People’s Democratic Republic (PDR) for a USD 79.3 million project (USD 35.2 million in GCF financing), to address a much-needed transition to the climate resilient management of forests and landscapes at scale.
GCF and the World Bank have signed an instrumental legal agreement to rapidly begin implementing the second phase of a renewable energy facility. It will support nine countries in meeting their NDC commitments while increasing access to electricity for the most vulnerable populations. The mitigation/adaptation cross-cutting Facility aims to also increase the reliability of the grid infrastructure, improving the country’s economic resilience, and the resilience of vulnerable households to better adapt to the devastating impacts of climate change.
On 5 January 2023, during the ceremony to present New Year’s greetings to the President of the Republic of Congo, Denis Sassou N’Guesso reiterated the announcement he had made at the 27th United Nations Climate Conference (COP27) in Egypt. In his capacity as president of the Congo Basin Climate Commission, he announced that the summit of the world’s three major forest basins would be held in Brazzaville in June 2023. The Congo Basin in Central Africa, the Amazon Basin in South America and the Borneo Mekong Basin in Southeast Asia.
Bujumbura, Republic of Burundi, March 17, 2023, under the high patronage of His Excellency Major Evariste NDAYISHIMIYE, President of the Republic, Head of State of Burundi, the eleventh ordinary session of the Council of Ministers of the Central African Forest Commission (COMIFAC) was held on March 17, 2023 in Bujumbura, Republic of Burundi.
As part of an effort to operationalize an integrated landscape approach in southern Zambia, the COLANDS (Collaborating to operationalize landscape approaches for nature, development, and sustainability) initiative has been developing and applying new tools and techniques designed to understand and integrate stakeholder visions for the Kalomo Hills Forest Reserve landscape.
The General Secretariat for Land Management has launched the study on the national forestry capital for the preparation of the national scheme of land management of the Democratic Republic of Congo. This study, which is expected to take1 year, aims at determining the ecological (conservation), economic and social potentials of the forest massifs for the whole national territory. The launching ceremony took place this Tuesday, March 14, in Kinshasa.
The thirty-fifth meeting of the Green Climate Fund (GCF) Board has ended with the approval of USD 587.7 million in new climate finance for developing nations, as well as the selection of a new Executive Director. Mafalda Duarte has been selected as the next Executive Director of GCF, with Henry Gonzalez, GCF Deputy Executive Director, appointed to serve as interim Executive Director until Duarte starts her tenure with GCF. The outgoing Executive Director Yannick Glemarec is reaching the end of his four-year term and will leave GCF on 2 April 2023.
“Working on gender issues requires the ability to understand questions such as ‘why’ and ‘how’,” said Stibniati Atmadja, Ethiopia’s Country Lead for the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD)’s Women’s Land Rights Initiative (WLR). “Qualitative data is key for this – but collecting and analyzing such data is a major skill gap in many countries.”
On tuesday, March 7, 2023 at 11:00 am CET (Berlin, Brussels, Kinshasa Time) the partners, leaders and co-leaders of the Western Block held their last coordination meeting online, on the follow-up of the implementation of the Declaration on Transhumance across borders, on MS Teams.
The Green Climate Fund (GCF) Board has selected Mafalda Duarte as its new Executive Director. Following an extensive global recruitment process, the Board made the selection during its thirty-fifth meeting at the GCF headquarters in Songdo, Incheon, Republic of Korea.
The "One Forest Youth Forum (OFYF)" was held from 27 to 28 February 2023 in Libreville (Gabon) as a prelude to the One Forest Summit. The event was organized spontaneously by the youth, members of AGRIDIS and the Pan African Climate Justice Alliance (PACJA Gabon) in collaboration with the National Youth Councils of ECCAS, the Youth Network for Central African Forests (REJEFAC), and a hundred NGOs and youth associations involved in the tackling of environmental, climate and forestry issues.
Jean Christophe Bokika Ngawolo, Chairperson of the Executive Committee of the NGO Mbou-Mon-Tour, was among the few personalities to speak at the One Forest Summit in the presence of various heads of state including Emmanuel Macron, Denis Sassou Nguesso and Ali Bongo. His organization was created in 1997 by a few university executives from the village of Nkala, in the territory of Bolobo (Maï-Ndombe). This territory has one of the highest densities of bonobos, an endemic species of the country and endangered according to the IUCN Red List.
The Central African Forest Commission (COMIFAC) in collaboration with the Ministry of Environment, Agriculture and Livestock of Burundi and with the financial support of the German cooperation through the GIZ project to support COMIFAC are organizing the eleventh ordinary session of its Council of Ministers from 14 to 17 March 2023 in Bujumbura, Republic of Burundi.
In order to improve the efficiency of the management of Protected Areas, the DRC, with the involvement of its partners, had invested in the BIOPAMA project in order to contribute to the development of the IMET tool "Integrated Management Effectiveness Tool". The use of the IMET tool in 18 DRC Protected Areas, for an overall frequency of 33 assessments, contributed to the diagnosis of management problems and to generate structured information to guide decision making for the change of the conservation status.
In line with the CBFP "Fair Deal", the OFS advocates for "A fair deal" between forest countries and the international community: "Time for payment for services rendered to the rest of the world (with the support of the secretariat of the High Ambition for Nature and Peoples (HAC) has come. In return for the commitment of forest countries, the international community will make available more funding, but also a mechanism for payment for the services rendered by nature kept intact, including carbon sequestration.”
Tuesday, January 31, 2023 at 11:30 am (Bangui time) the first coordination meeting of the year 2023 of the partners Co-leaders of the Bloc Centre for the follow-up of the implementation of the Declaration of N'Djaména on Transhumance, took place on MS Team.
For developing countries who are part of the UN’s REDD+ scheme (to reduce emissions from deforestation and forest degradation, and foster conservation, sustainable management of forests, and enhancement of forest carbon stocks), establishing baseline forest reference emission levels (FREL) is essential obligation to track progress towards reducing greenhouse gas emissions. FREL covers emissions from deforestation and – in some countries – from forest degradation and peat decomposition. In countries like Indonesia, Peru, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), and the Republic of Congo (RoC), that have large amounts of standing forest – and which can contribute significantly to a country’s emissions due to land-use change – these reference levels are particularly critical.
Ghana has become the second country in Africa after Mozambique to receive payments from a World Bank trust fund for reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation, commonly known as REDD+. The World Bank’s Forest Carbon Partnership Facility (FCPF) paid Ghana $4,862,280 for reducing 972,456 tons of carbon emissions for the first monitoring period under the program (June to December 2019).
Douala, Republic of Cameroon, February 23, 2023- The Executive Secretary of COMIFAC, Mr. Hervé Martial MAIDOU, today presided over the opening ceremony of the fourteenth workshop of the Sub-Group on Protected Areas and Wildlife (SGTAPFS).
Paris, 27 February 2023 – The One Forest Summit will be held in Libreville, Gabon, on 01-02 March, with the goal of making progress on climate action and protecting biodiversity by promoting solidarity between the three major forest basins of the world. Director General Audrey Azoulay will attend to highlight UNESCO’s unique mandate to protect forest areas and numerous conservation programs.
Mungu Amurinde Jeanne d’Arc, a resident of Rubavu District in the Western Province of Rwanda has expressed special gratitude to the President of Rwanda Paul Kagame for the positive impacts brought by the Sebeya Catchment conservation project.
Baroness Scotland is head of the Commonwealth Secretariat - the organisation's main intergovernmental agency. Getty Image. The Commonwealth Secretary-General, Rt Hon Patricia Scotland KC, will be in Gabon from Wednesday 1 March to highlight the importance of protecting global biodiversity at the One Forest Summit in Libreville on Thursday.