The Central African Forest Commission (COMIFAC), United Nations Environment Program (UNEP), World Resources Institute (WRI), and Rainforest Alliance joined with officials from government, national NGOs, the private sector, and international development organizations throughout the Congo Basin to launch a regional Global Environment Facility (GEF) project will focus on improving forest management and conservation.
The project, entitled A Regional Focus on Sustainable Timber Management in the Congo Basin, is starting with a set of activities at the regional level and in three pilot countries: Central African Republic, Equatorial Guinea, and the Republic of Congo. The regional launch held in Douala, Cameroon, on March 20-21 was followed by events in Bangui, Central African Republic, on March 27, and Brazzaville, Republic of Congo, on March 29. A subsequent launch event is expected to be held in Bata, Equatorial Guinea, in April 2012.
At the regional launch event in Douala, Adamou Bouhari, UNEP/GEF Task Manager, invited the participants to collaborate closely on this effort to address illegal logging and ensure that the management of production forests is carried out in a sustainable manner. According to Bouhari, initiatives at the national level have had significant impacts, but have focused on the ‘formal’ sector rather than the informal sector, and have not addressed regional and cross-border issues. GEF and UNEP involvement in this project will ensure that the Global Environment Benefits (GEB) are maintained and enhanced through a regional approach.
“WRI is very excited and proud to undertake this important and challenging four-year project to serve as a regional catalyst and work to promote a harmonized approach to the sustainable management of production forests,” said Pierre Methot, WRI’s Director of Forestry for Central Africa and Project Director. “This project will reinforce WRI’s already strong presence in the region and enhance our efforts to improve transparency and governance in the Congo Basin that focus on timber management, REDD, and other aspects of sustainable forest development.”
This project forms part of the GEF Congo Basin Strategic Program and will contribute to the implementation of the Convergence Plan and reinforce the capacity of COMIFAC.
The project will also capitalize on Rainforest Alliance’s ongoing work in Cameroon, and elsewhere around the world, with community-based forest enterprises.
According to Rainforest Alliance’s Senior Vice President & Vice President of Forestry Richard Donovan, “The forests of the Congo Basin are an incredible resource, but how do we ensure that local communities and indigenous people truly benefit from commercial activities, based on timber or carbon, in a way that supports forest conservation and community livelihoods? That is a critical challenge for this effort.”
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The United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) is an Implementing Agency of the Gobal Environment Facility (GEF) with the World Bank and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and is the only GEF Agency whose core business is the environment. UNEP plays a key role in supporting countries to develop and execute GEF projects that fit within its comparative advantage. www.unep.org
The World Resources Institute is a global environmental think tank that goes beyond research to put ideas into action. We work with governments, companies, and civil society to build solutions to urgent environmental challenges. WRI’s transformative ideas protect the earth and promote development because sustainability is essential to meeting human needs and fulfilling human aspirations in the future. www.wri.org
The Rainforest Alliance is an international nonprofit conservation organization that works to conserve biodiversity and ensure sustainable livelihoods by transforming land-use practices, business practices and consumer behavior. www.rainforest-alliance.org