Central African protected areas: Ecofac 6 program taking stock – lavoixdukoat

The first edition of the Steering Committee of the Regional Support Program for biodiversity and weakened ecosystems in Central Africa launched its proceedings on Tuesday, 4 May 2021 in Douala, Cameroon. Experts in the sub-region will spend three days, starting Tuesday, 4 May 2021, taking stock of progress and identifying prospects for the future.

The regional steering committee, an arm of the Ecofac 6 program, is funded by the European Union to the tune of EUR 86,417,500. The Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS) is the contracting authority. ECCAS was keen to hold the meeting in Cameroon, a country which is currently home to 30 protected areas, spanning 9 million hectares, and accounting for 20% of the national territory, as explained by the Head of the Support Unit of the National Program Authorizing Officer in Cameroon, Aliou Abdoulahi.

 

The stakes of the Ecofac 6 program are truly huge, as the ECCAS Commissioner for the Environment, Agriculture and Rural Development, Honoré Tabuna, underscores. “We are in a sub-region that has struggled economically since 2014, when oil barrel prices fell. Since then and even before 2014, our States have been looking to diversify our economies. One way to achieve that is through biodiversity economics. The program was launched in 2017. Today we take stock of the program’s status. It’s all about the protected areas where our biodiversity, mineral resources, villages and neighboring populations are found. "

 

Ecofac 6 is in fact a pilot program designed to build the economy of the sub-region’s protected areas which are "really a big part of the green economy. We’ve had Ecofac 1, 2, 3, 4, 5. We’ve realized that so far, the programs have focused primarily on conservation. We no longer go into the forests; we no longer hunt and kill game. But what do we eat? The socio-economic side of things has not been developed as much. As a result, the States believe it is time to draw lessons from both conservation and conservation economics. Does conservation enable us to create jobs, earn money, improve the livelihoods of people in protected areas? How can we ensure that IRAD Cameroon plays its part in such a program? ... These are all questions we must answer, based on the lessons from the program. This will allow us to set up a strong institutional framework to address certain weaknesses that were identified during the program’s implementation. The sub-region holds an important place not only in the economic life of our States, but also in the world at large since it is the world’s second largest contiguous forested area and therefore plays a crucial role in the fight against climate change", Honoré Tabuna continues.

 

Cameroon benefits tremendously from the Ecofac 6 program. The Permanent Secretary of the Organization for the Conservation of Wildlife in Africa (OCFSA), Cameroonian-born Dr. Ibrahim Linjonom lists some advantages accruing to Cameroon: “It is a multi-pronged program. In its training component, for instance, the implementing agency, GIZ, is involved with the training of park rangers, assisted by the Garoua Wildlife School. The Garoua Wildlife School is a major player in the sub-region and even French-speaking Africa in the training of anti-poaching officers.

 

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