Governance Forum in Central Africa: Forest Governance Appraisal and APV/FLEGT Process Progress
Participants in the forum dwelled on the progress of APV/FLEGT process, follow-up of forest governance, the link between FLEGT and REDD, changes in the international market, legality, sustainability and timber local markets.
Yaounde, 21 to 22 November 2011 - In prelude to the putting in place of the APV/FLEGT agreements (Voluntary Partnership Agreement (VPA) / "Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade” (FLEGT)), From 21 to 22 November 2011, holding in the premises of Mont Febe hotel in Yaounde of a forum on forestry governance in Central Africa. The main objective of this forum, organized by “the IDL group" with the financial support of the European Union, was to make an appraisal of forest governance in the concerned countries and to make a report on the progress of APV/FLEGT agreement negotiations. The forum was attended by international organisations, representatives of COMIFAC countries, representatives of the civil society from different countries and observers.
Grouped in six sessions, several presentations enabled participants to get informed on the progress of the APV/FLEGT process, the follow-up of forest governance, the link between FLEGT and REDD, changes in the international market, legality, sustainability and timber local markets.
The first session moderated by Denis Koulagna, Secretary General in the Ministry of Forestry and Wildlife (Cameroon) was introduced by Mr. Carl Frosio from the EU delegation who spoke on the progress of the FLEGT process at international level. Thus, there are three main groups of countries involved in the APV/FLEGT process: (1) APV/FLEGT signatory countries in the development phase: CAR, Cameroon, Congo, Ghana, Indonesia, Liberia; (2) Countries involved in the negotiation phase: Gabon, DRC, Vietnam, and Malaysia; and (3) Countries haven expressed their wish to join the process: Central and South America: Bolivia, Colombia, Equator, Guatemala, Guyana, Honduras, Peru, Asia-Pacific: Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar) Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Thailand. Africa: Ivory Coast and Sierra Leone. The continuation of presentations in this session dwelled on the state of progress in each country of the Congo Basin.
The second session moderated by Samuel Nguiffo, CED Director, focused on the follow-up of forest governance. Four presentations animated this session: Follow-up and reinforcement of integrity in the forestry sector; the role of independent forest observation in fostering forest governance in Congo, fostering civil society participation in the putting in place of APV/FLEGT in Cameroon and the role of APV/FLEGT in reducing poverty. On this point Mrs Marlene Buchy dwelled on two main points, including the definition of poverty within the APV context and proposed a mode of operation for poverty reduction in APV.
The 3rd session focused on the link between FLEGT and REDD. Moderated by Cléto Ndikumagenge, CBFP Delegate facilitator, three presentations were discussed namely: FLEGT process and lessons for the REDD by Joachim Kondi from the ministry of Environment in the Republic of Congo. The main points examined in this presentation concerned respectively the progress of the REDD+ and APV/FLEGT process in the Republic of Congo, the main synergies identified between REDD+ and APV/FLEGT process and the major lessons to guarantee continuity and the complementarity of REDD+ and APV/FLEGT processes. The second presentation focused on the link between FLEGT and REDD, lessons and experiences from the DRC, presented by Adrien Kakula, national coordinator of REDD in DRC. The main points treated focused on the construction of the national REDD strategy in DRC, the strategic environmental and social evaluation (SESA) of REDD+ process implementation and a study on the REDD+ national fund: Financial mechanism for the management of REDD funding in the DRC. In the presentation on REDD+: Reduction, emission and deforestation in Cameroon, presented by Georges Akwah Neba from IUCN, he underlined that contrary to other countries, Cameroon is more advanced in area of zoning. The vision and adaptations of the two processes are effective in Cameroon; one can even say the process is complete. Two major groups of questions followed the different presentations of this session: questions on the knowledge of REDD+ and FLEGT processes and questions on additionality and leakages. In a nutshell, dialogue among sectors, regions and big towns and the involvement of CSOs is encouraged with the implication of all local, national and international partners.
The 4th session focused on changes in the international market, moderated by Alain Penelon, Technical Assistant within COMIFAC, was composed of three presentations. In his presentation on European Union regulation on timber, Bérénice Castadot from IFIA redefined FLEGT action plan, presented APV/FLEGT as a legal timber offer and the 995/2010 EU regulation on timber (RBUE) as a legal timber demand, and the APV and RBUE as the link between offer and demand. He stressed that regulation on timber is an obligation for actors and not for States. Hence, FLEGT legality is strictly the only formal evidence of timber exploitation as legal timber if and only if it complies with logging laws of the countries where it is exploited. In the presentation on Lacey Act in United State of America by André Kamdem Toham from USAID, the main objective was to explain what US lacey Act is and how it has helped to fight illegal logging and trade. US Lacey Act is the oldest American law on timber. It is a well-established tool to fight the illegal traffic of wild species. It also contributes in the fight against the illegal traffic of plants. The products concerned by US Lacey Act are essentially products from rough timber. In case of violation of the lacey act, sanctions can range from financial fine up to years of imprisonment. The last presentation on this session focused on policies governing public contracts in European Union member countries, by Sofie Tind Nielson of Proforest. She dwelled on two main points namely, the European Union regulation stamp and the APV/FLEGT, and legality in UK.
The 5th session focused on legality and sustainability, moderated by Nathalie Nyane Essima from Gabonese Ministry of Forestry. The first presentation in this series focused on the private sector initiatives in de domains of legality/sustainability by Jerome Laporte from Pallisco: The main points addressed focused on the presentation of Pallisco and CIFM, FSC certification, the difference between FSC and FLEGT, the achievements of FSC certified companies, and the stakes of FSC certification and the position of certified companies. The second exposé on the private sector readiness for the implementing APV/FLEGT was presented by Achile Djeagou of TFT. The main points addressed focused on the presentation of the context, the objectives, the work to be done and the intervention sites, the challenges; the project status report, the next implementation phases and project partners.
The 6th session focused on local timber market. Moderator: Honourable Zam, Member of Parliament in Cameroon National Assembly. It was composed of three presentations:
The first on rural economy of timber domestic markets in the Congo Basin, by Guillaume Lescuyer of CIRAD; the second on timber local market in the republic of Congo, by Yembé Yembé of CRPDI and the third lastly on the lumber market and corruption by Paolo Cerutti of CIFOR. The first presentation was centred on a presentation of an inquiry of CIRAD with some data on the traceability of timber in the Congo Basin. Next, the quantitative results on the quantity of small scale sawing sold and used the socio-economic estimates of small scale exploitation of wood work in the rural area and some brainstorming on security, legalisation, and sustainability of the domestic wood sector in the Congo basin. In the presentation on timber local market, Régis Yembe Yembe remarked that, the timber market is an important economic but not ecologically lasting sector. He continued in the same line as his predecessor to present the different problems faced by timber market in the republic of Congo which include; administrative bottle necks, machine breakdowns, the precarious nature of transport network and insufficient fuel supply. He however noted that the main worry of the sawyers was that of obtaining a licence that will gives them the legal right to exploit timber. One of the solutions to these numerous problems as he proposed, was to encourage the sawyers to get a permit thus avoiding to increase the cost of the licence and revolutionize governance in the sector The last presentation, more of pictures than texts helped to understand that some people have made sawing their main activity, reason for which the means are available. The State through its institutions recognises this and collects taxes from every logging company. Every article is legalised by a State stamp with a levy of 10 to 11%. The direct effects of this levy are the questioning of the State of law, precariousness and indebtedness and the absence of investment. In Cameroon, the greatest hindrance is the phone call system, whereby following the seizure of illegal timber being transported, a phone call from the higher authority of the agent involved constitutes a free pass. In the application of the FLEGT process, the real problem is the authorities who should use APV offers to reform the system. Actors involved in the exploitation of timber are the MINFOF, exploiters and the populations. Thus for a lasting funding, it would be indispensable to involve all the actors.
To close this forum, some panellists like Nathalie Nyari-Essimba, Rodrigue Ngonzo and Charles Akago were chosen by the organization.
In her closing remarks, Nathalie Nyari-Essima appreciated the exchange of experiences from countries already advanced in the process. She expressed her satisfaction on the possibilities of facing future challenges, themes to address to facilitate a better implementation of the FLEGT process in Gabon. Charles Akago on his part praised the progress of the project in Cameroon which has even taken measures to legalise the process. He equally recommended that all the concerns about the deadline of 03 March 2013 be discussed afresh. Rodrigue NGONZO on his part encouraged the mobilization of the civil society so that the implementation of APV is successful. He recommended that the forestry exploitation process be formalised and the interest of the local communities be considered.