Yaounde, Cameroon, 21-25 February 2000


Table of Contents


1. Many African countries are participating in the on-going global debate on sustainable forest management (SFM)1 and have committed themselves to Combating Deforestation as endorsed in Chapter 11 of Agenda 21, and the Forest Principles2 which complement it. The emphasis on sustainable development, which was the guiding principle of Agenda 21, implies that SFM should be considered an integral part of overall national strategies which reconcile economic growth, social equity in development and environmental sustainability. This poses a number of challenges to African countries.

2. But, for many countries in the Region, their heavy debt burdens impede implementation of the programme of action in Agenda 21. Reduction and relief of this debt remains the dominant preoccupation of African policy makers, with 32 countries being listed among the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPCs). Economic growth remains elusive - with only 31 of the 53 African countries registering rates of economic growth in excess of their population growth rates (ECA 1997).

3. Despite significant improvements, there remains a lack of reliable information on the status and potential of forest resources in many countries in the world, especially those in Africa, which undermines efforts to introduce sustainable forest management. Whilst the management of a country's forests is clearly a national prerogative, it affects neighbouring countries and may have regional or even global impacts.

4. The present document highlights those issues that require the attention of governments, non-governmental agents and civil society as a prerequisite for the implementation of sustainable forest development in Africa.


5. As a proportion of world totals, Africa represents nearly 23% of the land area, 13% of the population; 15% of forests and around 5% of forest plantations. The area of forest per caput (0.7 ha) is higher than that of Asia (0.1 ha), but low compared to Europe (1.3 ha), North and Central America (1.2 ha), South America (2.7 ha) and Oceania (3.2 ha) (FAO, 1999a). Africa also has important wildlife resources. These can support significant social and economic development but, until now, a variety of indicators has shown Africa to have made only modest progress in the sustainable development of its forest resources.

6. Africa encompasses three major vegetation zones: arid and semi-arid forest zones, tropical high forest, and sub-tropical zone. This classification can be further sub-divided into eight eco-geographic zones, which are characterised by the great diversity of environmental and forest conditions.

7. They vary from the dry tropical forests of the Sahel, East and Southern Africa to the humid tropical forests of Western and Central Africa. Others include the various sub-tropical forests and woodland formations found in North Africa and the southern tip of the continent. Geographically, about 97% (505 million ha) of Africa's forest cover is found in tropical Africa and is distributed as follows: in Central Africa, there are 205 million ha; Tropical Southern Africa has 141 million ha; East Sahelian Africa, 58 million ha; Moist West Africa, 46 million ha; West Sahelian Africa - 40 million ha; Insular Africa - 15 million ha; the remaining 3% (i.e. 15 million ha) is found in North Africa and non-tropical Southern Africa (FAO, 1997a).

8. Overall, the forests cover an area of 520 million hectares, equivalent to almost 18% of the land area of Africa. With the exception of North Africa and non-tropical South Africa, the continent contains the world's second largest reservoir of tropical forest cover, even though it also has a proportionately larger area of desert climatic zones than any other continent except Australia. Central Africa and West Africa contain most of the dense forests on the continent (46.324 million ha and 204.677 million ha respectively (FAO, 1995). Africa's forests face considerable threats such as rapid conversion into agricultural land, overgrazing, wildfire, overlogging, fuelwood and charcoal production.

Potential of the Forest Resource

9. In forestry as in many other respects, Africa is a continent of contrasts. Some countries on the continent have some of the world's richest forests; others are dry deserts and severely lacking in forest cover; yet others have only modest natural forest endowment which permits mainly local subsistence usage. A number of countries have compensated for the lack of natural forests by establishing forest plantations. Africa's wildlife and biological diversity are among the richest of the world and East and Southern Africa have gained world leadership in the sustainable management of wildlife resources and the development of tourism based on sound forestry polices and adequate investment. Yet, in other countries of the continent, the potential offered by wildlife resources remains largely under-utilised.

10. FAO's State of the World's Forest (FAO 1997a) shows that, while the world average contribution of forestry to GDP is 2%, it is 6% in Africa. Furthermore, out of 24 countries in the world where forestry's contribution to GDP is 10% or higher, 18 of them are in Africa.

Deforestation and Forest Degradation

11. Deforestation is the most serious threat in most African countries. It is estimated that the continent lost 10.5% of its area under forests between 1980 and 1995, which was worse than that reported for the developing world as a whole (FAO, 1999a). The annual rate of deforestation in the period 1990 - 1995 was 0.7% for Africa, over twice the world average of 0.3%.

12. The main causes of deforestation and of degradation of land and forest resources are human activities, including forest clearing for agricultural expansion, unsustainable fuel wood collection, charcoal making and unmanaged timber harvesting operations. Other causes include mining, resettlement, wildfires, over-grazing and loss of vegetation cover due to recurrent droughts. During recent decades, civil wars and the resulting flows of refugees have caused extensive damage to Africa's forests.

13. In addition, there is a complex web of underlying factors which arise from land tenure issues, poverty and food shortages. Most Low Income Food Deficit countries in the region are also countries with low forest cover in which forests often provide a means of satisfying basic needs. It is generally accepted that the key to arresting deforestation and to implementing sustainable forest development lies in improved technologies for food production.

Wildlife Resources

14. The managed utilisation of wildlife resources can provide an important means to sustainable land use and conservation in the region, and figures prominently in the on-going debate about the environment. In East and Southern Africa, the wildlife resources form the basis of much tourism, which contributes in a major way to national economies, through foreign exchange and employment.

15. In much of West Africa, wildlife in the form of bush meat provides an important protein supply in the local diet. In countries such as Ghana, Togo, Benin and Nigeria, bush meat, which is widely consumed, is estimated to generate trade revenues of between US$150 million - 160 million. Recent studies (FAO 1997b and Molade 1999) have indicated that wildlife of all kinds are heavily exploited for food in most parts of Africa. However, recent publications have indicated that much of the bushmeat trade is unsustainable.

16. It is well known that, with sound polices and adequate investment, countries in East and Southern Africa have gained world-wide leadership in the sustainable management of wildlife resources. In most cases, however, forestry and wildlife departments are hosted in different institutions with uncoordinated polices and with programmes that are not harmonised. This situation is detrimental to the sustainable management of wildlife and forest resources, and needs to be redressed.

17. Wildlife depends on forests as well as other vegetation for its habitat. Since the 1940's, there has been a steady loss of wildlife habitat owing to agricultural encroachment, pastoral saturation, and increased hunting and fishing for the provision of foods.

Timber Products and Forest-based Industries

18. Africa produces only a small percentage of the world's total industrial round wood, and it is a net importer of most industrial wood products. Its exports are mainly logs, but there are increasing, though as yet, small volumes of primary wood products. Trade in forest products represents 2% of Africa's trade in terms of value, but for some countries (for example, Cameroon and Ghana), trade in forest products represents 15 - 48% of export value. Africa's share of sawn-timber production remains at 5% of the 41 million m3 produced by ITTO member countries3, while the Asian region accounted for 62% of that total. Africa is in fact a net importer of most industrial wood products.

19. There is a recent trend towards restricting exports of round logs from the West African sub-region; for example, by Ghana in 1996, and Côte d'Ivoire in January 1997. This has resulted in the increased development of saw and ply-milling industries in those countries. Also, the manufacture of tertiary wood products is gradually increasing in some of countries where log exports have been restricted. In contrast, log exports from Gabon and Cameroon remain substantial.

20. The countries of North Africa (i.e. Algeria, Morocco, Egypt, Libya and Tunisia) accounted for 60% of the continent's wood imports in 1994. However, there is scope for more intra-African trade in wood products with countries south of the Sahara. South Africa alone accounts for 73% of the continent's production of wood pulp. With the exception of Kenya, Nigeria, South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania and Zimbabwe, all countries in sub-Sahara Africa import nearly all of their paper requirements.

Non-Wood Forest Products (NWFPS)

21. There has been increasing recognition of the importance of non-wood forest products (NWFPs) to rural peoples, particularly in Africa. Such products arise from plants and animals, and may include food, medicine, wild game, gum, mushroom, honey, perfumes, chewing sticks, cultural products, fodder from trees, rattan, bamboo and fibres.

22. In relation to medicinal products, the natural forests of the region provide drugs of great realised and potential value. Examples of these include: Ancistrocladus korupensis, of which some extractions have shown great promise in the cure of the human immuno-deficiency viruses, HIV-1 and HIV-2; and, Prunus africana, of which elements have been proven to cure prostate cancer. In many cases, rural communities living around and on forests possess a great deal of traditional knowledge about these and other medicines which have not yet been commercialised. Yet they have benefited very little from trade in these products. It is important that timely mechanisms be put in place to ensure equitable benefit sharing in future (Tuffuor 1999).

Wood Based Energy

23. Africa's population, especially in sub-Saharan Africa, is relying more than ever on fuelwood to meet domestic energy needs. Fuelwood and charcoal consumption has increased significantly between 1980 and 1994, and it is expected that this trend will continue, driven by increasing populations and macro-economic changes. Of the almost 570 million m3 of roundwood produced in 1994 in the region, 84% was used as fuelwood.

24. In West Sahelian Africa, one response has been the promotion of participatory management of natural forests for fuel wood production, and the creation of rural fuelwood markets. In Niger, rural markets sold 16 million tons of fuel wood in 1994, representing 10 - 15% of the wood coming to Niamey, the capital city. Its market value was approximately 60 million CFA, from which about 5 million village wood-cutters benefited directly.

25. In selected countries of East Africa (Uganda, Rwanda, Tanzania and in Ethiopia), it has been estimated that the percentage of fuelwood to total household energy consumption is around 90%. These countries experience acute fuelwood deficits, exerting great pressures on the limited indigenous and plantation forests.


Policy and Legislation

26. In the past, forest policy initiatives have tended to be narrowly sectoral. Agenda 21 calls for cross-sectoral policy analysis and formulation. Perhaps this remains the most significant shortcoming of past forest policies during the early stages of the Tropical Forestry Action Plan (TFAP).

27. Under the framework of national forestry programs, many African countries have initiated policy reforms. In the cases of Cameroon, Ghana, Senegal, Tanzania, these initiatives have been successful, but other countries have been hampered by lack of political and institutional instability, inadequate technical expertise and lack of financial resources. Despite the enthusiasm generated by the TFAP, national efforts to review forest policies and legislation have been hampered by lukewarm political commitment and lack of clear support from decision-makers. Whatever the cause, the general consensus reached at the XI World Forestry Congress (1997) and elsewhere, is that progress in forest policy formulation in developing countries has not been followed by effective implementation.

28. The XI World Forestry Congress recognised the need for a better understanding of policy tools which is a crucial prerequisite to successful policy implementation and reform, particularly with regards to the balance between regulatory, economic/incentive and persuasive instruments.

29. At the consultation of African Policy Experts, held in Accra in October 1995 (FAO, 1996), the failure of forest policies was attributed to the use of assistance-driven project tools, instead of emphasising local constraints, incentive systems and least-cost strategies. Among the various tools available for policy implementation, legally-binding regulatory instruments based on forest legislation, property rights frameworks and national constitutions have been the most commonly used. A second category of policy instruments comprises economic, financial and market instruments that are generally aimed at inducing compliance in a framework of rewards and penalties.

30. Successful forest policy implementation also depends on the development of a sound system of information and data collection, analysis and dissemination. In spite of substantial efforts and resources devoted to improvements in these respects, results have been disappointing owing to reasons similar to those hampering policy implementation. In order to improve this situation, FAO has launched a Forestry Outlook Study for Africa (FOSA), in partnership with the AfDB, the European Union and the World Bank, and under the auspices of the African Forestry and Wildlife Commission (AFWC). There are substantial opportunities for improving national capacities for information gathering and analysis, and for increasing the involvement of key stakeholders in the processes.

Training and Education

31. For Africa to implement successfully recommendations of the Inter-governmental Panel on Forests (IPF) of the Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD), it is necessary to enhance national forestry development capacities. This may require, among other measures, the review of training and educational curricula for forest resources managers, with emphasis on new skills in rural sociology, communication, technology transfer and research methodologies such as the "participatory approaches".

32. FAO has initiated such a process in selected countries in West Africa. These training programmes will target the local communities, enabling them to manage their own forestry programmes effectively.


33. Since the 1980s, many African countries have addressed research in their NFAPs/NFMPs. Structural adjustment has led to the downsizing of public institutions in many sub-Saharan African countries, as elsewhere.. National Agricultural Research Systems (NARS), of which forestry research is a component, have also been restructured. The prevailing trend is to decentralise agricultural research by transferring national research staff to regional multi-disciplinary research programmes within the country. Whilst bringing researchers closer to extension services and the end-users of knowledge, this process may also weaken national capacity in forestry research, at least over the short term, by diluting a slender body of expertise already below the critical mass.

34. An Expert Consultation on Forestry Research took place in Accra from 30th September to 2nd October, 1997. This focussed on recent trends in research and on its impact and response to the developing needs of the forestry sector at national and regional levels. Consideration was given to institutional aspects and to effective technology transfer at national level.

35. A number of initiatives have emerged from the conclusions of this meeting, among which was the establishment of a Forestry Research Network for Sub-Saharan Africa (FORNESSA) as a mechanism to strengthen national capacities and regional cooperation for more effective forestry research. Other initiatives, such as CBFR and AFORNET (led by the African Academy of Sciences), are currently being implemented.

36. Efforts such as FORNESSA aim to specifically strengthen forestry research capacity on the continent, through the development and linkage of existing institutions such as the Forestry Network of CORAF and the Sub-committee on Research of the SADC-FSTCU, as components of regional agricultural research.


Economic Constraints

37. As noted at the beginning of this paper, improvement of living standards remains an elusive goal for many African countries, - with only 31 out of the 53 countries registering rates of economic growth in excess of their population growth rates (ECA, 1997). And besides, these countries are encumbered and predominantly preoccupied with high external debts, with 32 countries being listed among the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPCs).

38. Many countries are also currently undergoing economic transition. Structural Adjustment Programs (SAPs) have resulted in the devaluation of their currencies, erosion of their people's purchasing power, and the relative impoverishment of rural as well as urban populations. Under SAP, subsidies on alternatives to traditional fuel wood energy, such as electricity and kerosene have been removed, and many people have reverted to wood energy for their domestic needs - with devastating repercussions on forest resources..

39. Sub-saharan countries in African exhibit high annual population growth rates, large rural populations, accelerating urbanisation and low per capita incomes. These factors combine with others to exert destructive pressures on forests to supply fuel wood, poles, food etc., at unsustainable rates. It is estimated that 70-90% of total energy consumption is derived from wood, and this dependence on the forests is likely to increase owing to the low incomes and poverty situation of rural peoples on Africa.

40. The inadequacy of financial resources for the forestry sector in Africa is a real constraint on the ability and effectiveness of public institutions to fulfil their mandates. Sustainable forest management and development require substantial financing, which the poor economies of many countries can hardly afford, particularly since funding from both domestic and international public sources has been declining.

41. The UNCED document, chapter 11 of Agenda 21, estimated that the total investment funds needed to achieve SFM in developing countries would be about $31.25 billion for the period 1993 - 2000. The current level of ODA funding in forestry is only 27.2% of this amount, and it is not likely to increase in the current political and economic climate For a variety of reasons, African countries are facing sharp declines in ODA funding for forestry programs. But, as yet, the use of the private sector in funding forestry programmes has not been fully appreciated, and efforts should be made to attract more from this source.

Political Instability

42. It is important to recognise that conflicts which result in political instability in Africa pose grave problems, and have direct and often overriding consequences for SFD.

43. Currently, some 15 countries on the continent have military conflicts. The forests of these countries remain unsafe to manage, or are simply out of bounds. The growing number of displaced people due to political conflicts and military struggles ravage forest resources even beyond national boundaries. In addition to this, many forests in countries under civil wars have been land-mined, which constitutes and will continue to constitute in future, a major obstacle to SFD.

44. The curtailment and destabilisation of SFM (and therefore of SFD) is not restricted to countries at war in Africa. Even in countries such as Kenya and Uganda, with no declared wars, conflicts of interest between communities and governments, may render SFM/SFD programmes untenable, or difficult to execute in specific areas.

Technical Capacities

45. In many countries, the credibility and technical capacity of public institutions need to be re-enforced in order that they may fulfil their mandates within the new trends of participation, decentralisation and privatisation. The responsible institutions for forestry and wildlife are often separate, the forestry institutions themselves are sometimes located in separate and uncordinated services and, consequently, the relevant policies and legislation often fragmented and disconnected. Recognising that forest ecosystems encompass wildlife habitats, there is a need for a more co-ordinated approach in which institutions work in harmony under common policy goals and through consolidated legislation and regulations.

46. It is recognised that many African countries have forestry institutional capacities for below the minimum required to plan and implement SFM according to Agenda 21.


Conservation and Sustainable use of Forest and Wildlife Resources

47. The Forest Principles, agreed upon by countries at UNCED in 1992, call for the sustainable management of forest resources and forest lands to meet the social, economic, ecological, cultural and spiritual needs of present and future generations. These needs are for forest products and services, such as wood and wood products, water, food, fodder, medicine, fuel, shelter, employment, recreation, habitats for wildlife, landscape diversity, carbon sinks and reservoirs, and for other forest products.

48 Common criteria by which sustainable forest management can be defined, and quantifiable indicators by which it can be assessed or described and regularly monitored, are essential to the evaluation of the overall effects of forest management interventions.

49 The development and implementation of criteria and indicators for sustainable forest management at national and forest management-unit level in Africa is taking place through the work of two main processes and initiatives. The Dry-Zone Africa Process includes 28 Sub-saharan countries, which are divided by sub-region into the Southern African Development Community (SADC), the Permanent Inter-States Committee on Drought Control in the Sahel (CILSS) and the African Timber Organization (13 member countries).

50 Implementation in some northern African countries (for example, Algeria, Egypt, Libya, Mauritania, Morocco, Somalia, Sudan and Tunisia) falls under the Near East Process. ITTO and CIFOR also have activities in the region involving the development, testing and implementation of criteria and indicators at the forest management unit level.

51 Despite various technical, administrative, financial and political problems encountered, some African countries have made significant progress in adapting criteria and indicators to their national needs; but actual implementation is still in early stages - especially with regard to forest management unit level.

52. The challenges, in terms of conserving the forest and wildlife resources, are to maintain existing natural forests, enhance protected area systems, and to conserve areas of high bio-diversity recognised within the Man and Biosphere Programme Reserve (MAB), the Ramsar and National Heritage sites. Other elements of the challenge are the involvement of local communities in protected area management and the reconciliation of conservation and development (especially rural development).

Forest Genetic Resources and Plantation Development

53. The high importance of biological diversity of forests and of the genetic resources of forest trees and shrubs, and the multiple values, uses and threats attached to these resources, have been well recognised. African countries have participated in the international dialogue on conservation and sustainable utilisation of the genetic resources of forest trees and shrubs. Recommendations on the matter were made at the 13th Session of COFO (March 1997), and FAO reported on the progress of its initiative to the 20th FAO Regional Conference in Addis Ababa in February 1998, and to the 11th session of the AFWC in Dakar in April 1998.

54 A sub-Regional Plan of Action of Forest Genetic Resources was prepared by participants from 15 West Sahelian countries during a workshop in Ouagadougou in September 1998. A similar process has been initiated in East and Southern Africa under the umbrella of the Forestry Sector Technical Co-ordination Unit (FSTCU) of the Southern African Development Community (SADC), and a workshop on forest genetic resources in the SADC sub-Region is proposed for early 2000. Subsequently, the sub-Saharan Africa Forest Genetic Resources Network (SAFORGEN) to be launched by the International Plant Genetic Resources Institute (IPGRI) in collaboration with FAO, will be instrumental in implementing several research activities of the Sub-Regional Action Plans on Forest Genetic Resources.

55. Forest plantations represent an important element in the sustainable development of the forest sector, and can be complementary to natural forests. In non-tropical and Southern Africa, plantations already account for almost the entire industrial forest estate, and in Kenya, Tanzania, Zambia, and Zimbabwe, plantations are the main sources of industrial timber and wood.

56. However, compared to other parts of the world, plantations in Africa are small in extent and, in many cases suffer from poor survival and lack of management. This has been attributed to lack of financial resources for such long-term investments and also, until recently, to lack of effective demand for the products and to low returns from the sale of the products.

57. The challenge to the private sector investors is to expand the contribution of plantations to sustainable forestry development whilst attaining qualitative improvements such as:

  1. the use of improved planting stock based on advanced selection and the application of bio-technology,
  2. Better management, including agro-forestry systems,
  3. Increased attention to social aspects and involvement of local communities;
  4. Greater reliance on indigenous species.

Timber Marketing and Trade

58. International trade in forest products has given rise to environmental concerns, particularly in developed consumer countries. The challenge is to ensure that forest production in developing countries makes a sustainable contribution to national development whilst conserving the resource base for all users.

59. One of the more recent controversial trade-related issues involves the development of the certification and labelling schemes, which has divided consumer countries, producer groups, inter-governmental and civil society organisations. In this context, the main challenge is to achieve a certain level of international comparability of schemes whilst, at the same time, to avoid "hidden" protectionism. FAO continues to promote dialogue over this issue through its various international forestry fora, including the African Forestry and Wildlife Commission.

60. Forest products certification and eco-labelling have the potential to contribute to the promotion of SFM. However, few African countries have been involved with the development and adoption of certification schemes in the developed consumer countries. The challenge to African countries is to take proactive steps to influence the process and, where appropriate, develop their own certification guidelines for forest products.

61 Moves are underway to commence a new round of WTO multilateral trade negotiations (the so-called "Millennium Round"). African countries need to participate effectively in any negotiations that concern forestry, and FAO has begun a series on training courses which aim to assist developing countries to participate effectively (Training Course on the Uruguay Round and future negotiations in agriculture).

Forestry and Food Security

62 Rural people are critically dependent on trees and forests for their food security and as sources of income. Traditionally, people have exploited the forests for food, fuel wood and marketable products; but as rural populations expand, forest resources are being rapidly degraded, logged, and cleared for agriculture. This steady but rapid erosion of this foundation of food security has serious implications for the future livelihood of rural people.

63. The challenge to Governments is to counteract these pressures by:

  1. Improving macro-economic conditions especially for forest goods and services,
  2. Instituting measures to alleviate rural poverty.

National Forest Programmes

64. The development of national forest programmes has been hampered by political turmoil, lack of international support, weak political commitment and the poor integration of forestry policies into the overall agriculture sectors.

65. The challenge for African countries is to broaden the focus of their national forest programmes as envisaged in Agenda 21, and then build capacities to formulate and implement NFPs through participatory and cost effective processes, with the fullest participation of governments, NGOs and the private sector.

Forest Policy and Legislation

66. As has already been pointed out, in many countries the institutions responsible for forestry and wildlife are often located in different government organisations, and the relevant policies and legislation may not be well harmonised. Recognising that forest ecosystems encompass wildlife habitats, there is a need for a more co-ordinated approach in which institutions work in harmony with common policy goals and through consolidated legislation and regulations.

67. Hitherto, the centralised and authoritarian management of many Forestry Departments situation has deterred other stakeholders from participating in sector forest management. The democratic evolution sweeping through Africa demands institutional reform policies for the effective decentralisation of forest sector management to encourage the full participation of all stakeholders.

68. In many instances, revised forest policies have not been translated into more effective implementation. The challenge here is to remove the constraints militating against policy implementation, such as lack of political commitment and shortage of financial resources.

69. A major constraint has been the lack of effective information collection systems which are vital for forest policy implementation. The challenge is for countries to participate in ongoing initiatives by FAO to enhance national capacities in the collection, analysis and dissemination of forestry statistics under the FAO-EC Partnership programme, and in the Forestry Outlook Study for Africa (FOSA).

Community and Participatory Forestry

70. In general, community participation in SFM is still beset with conflict of interests which requires solutions specifically adapted to African cultural norms and socio-political development pathways. In many cases, user groups, including rural women and local populations are still often excluded from policy; and they benefit little from trade in the valuable products from the forest.The challenges are to:

  1. establish mechanisms for more equitable sharing of the benefits from the forest;
  2. adopt participatory approaches to the planning and implementation of forest programmes, involving all stakeholders;
  3. secure the will of political leaders to avoid/minimise the devastating effects of protracted wars and wildfires;
  4. emphasise agro-forestry as an important addition to participatory forestry, and also as a major link of the interface between forestry and agriculture.

Training, Education and Research

71. To enhance forestry institutional capacities in Africa, countries need to commit more of their own resources to strengthen their forestry institutions, including training and research. The challenge is to develop and strengthen existing institutions on the continent, and facilitate their capacities for implementation of SFD programmes. Other challenges are to enable local communities to play their full roles in the implementation of forestry programmes.

Regional and International Co-operation

72. Africa's participation in the IPF and IFF processes have been so far very modest, and many countries lack adequate information on the international debate on forestry, and on the major issues at stake. The principal causes have been the economic constraints, coupled with the weakness of their forestry institutions.

73. In the meantime, the challenge to sub-regional organisations such as ATO, CILSS, IGAD, SADC/FSTCU, ECOWAS Forestry Division, is to participate and co-operate actively in the activities of the IFF. The AFWC as the co-ordinating organisation for forestry should ensure full co-operation among member governments as well as ensuring the active and sustained participation of African countries in the international debate on sustainable management of forest and wildlife resources.


74. The achievement of Sustainable Forestry Development (SFD) will require that greater efforts be made by African countries in the creation of a conducive environment for participation by governments, donors, NGOs, civil society and the private sector in the formulation and implementation of forestry programmes.

75. Over the past five years, many forestry fora took place in Africa to debate issues hampering forestry development in the region. Among these, the most important were:

- the Forestry Summit held in Yaounde last year at the initiative of His Excellency, President Paul Bya;

- the First and Second Ministerial Conferences on Dense and Humid Forest Ecosystems of Central Africa, held respectively in Brazzaville (1996) and in Bata (1998);

- the 10th and 11th Sessions of the African Forestry and Wildlife Commission which took place in South Africa (1995) and in Senegal (1998).

76. Many seminars and technical consultations have been organised to follow up on these meetings. Out of the many issues that require urgent attention, it is possible to highlight some as being pivotal to addressing the `Challenges of Sustainable Forestry Development in Africa'. The following recommendations and elements for discussion emanate from the above, as well as many other regional and international meetings, and deserve consideration and guidance from this important Conference.

International Forestry Agenda

77. The obligations and responsibilities arising from international deliberations and agreements relating to the sustainable management of forest and wildlife resources present formidable but worthwhile challenges to the countries of Africa. Cognisant of the slender resources available and before participating in the international forestry policy dialogue, countries may wish to:

- co-ordinate common positions through enhanced and strengthened roles for their respective sub-regional organisations, in order to first ensure the feasibility of such proposals, and then to devise the means and timetables to transform them into accomplishments.

Forestry, Agriculture and Food Security

78. Given the reliance of the majority of rural populations in Africa on non-monetised forest and wildlife resources for their daily welfare and food security, ministries responsible for agriculture and food may wish to:

- formulate policies which recognise that the sustainability of the natural resource base for agriculture depends on investments in soil and water conservation, which can better be undertaken by farmers with secure land tenure;

- promote rationale land-use planning to ensure the mitigation of the negative environmental effects of agricultural activities and expansion on the contribution of forests to water supply, soil conservation and fertility;

- ensure that agricultural statistics encompass relevant information collected from farm units on foods derived from forests, and on the role of trees in farming systems;

- take steps to integrate these aspects of forestry into agricultural extension in order to ensure a unified message;

Forest Industry and Agriculture

79. In many countries, the forestry sector continues to play a significant role in the formal economy, particularly through the generation of rural purchasing power - thereby providing access to food. Lamentably, forest industries are, in many cases, in disarray. The Conference may see the need to take a view on:

- the future evolution of the sector - in particular, on the trade in primary wood products vis à vis value-added processing;

- on increasing reliance on intensively-grown plantation sources of wood to supplement those from sustainably managed natural forests;

- the need to promote intra-African trade in forest products in order that forest-rich countries may supply those countries less well endowed.

Funding of forestry development

80. Faced with declining national and international funding for forestry development, there is a need for policy initiatives aimed at the mobilisation of domestic private sector resources, and to ensure the continued flow of international funds to Africa. Two key mechanisms that might be considered for concerted and negotiated action by countries could be:

- the deployment of carbon offsets funds for plantation development, and

- the establishment of National and/or International Forestry Funds for the support of forestry programmes.



AfDB - African Development Bank
AFWC - African Forestry and Wildlife Commission
ATO - African Timber Organisation
C & I - Criteria and Indicators (of sustainable forest management)
CBFR - Capacity Building in Forestry Research
CILSS - Permanent Inter-States Committee on Drought Control in the Sahel
CITES - Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora
COFO - Committee on Forests
ECA - UN Economic Commission for Africa
CSD - Commission on Sustainable Development
ECOWAS - Economic Community of West African States
FAO - Food and Agriculture Organization
FORNESSA - Forestry Research Network for Sub-Sahara Africa
FOSA - Forestry Sector Outlook Study for Africa
FRA - Forest Resource Assessment
GDP - Gross Domestic Product
HIPCs - Heavily Indebted Poor Countries
IFF - Inter-governmental Forum on Forests
IGAD - Inter-governmental Authority on Development
IPF - Inter-governmental Panel on Forests
IPGRI - International Plant Genetic Resources Institute
ISD - Indicators of Sustainable Development
MAB - Man and Biosphere Programme
NFAP - National Forestry Action Plan
NFMP - National Forest Management Plan
NFP - National Forest Programme
NGO - Non-governmental Organization
SADC - Southern African Development Community
SAFORGEN - Sub-Saharan Africa Forest Genetic Resources Programme
SFD - Sustainable Forest Development
SFM - Sustainable Forest Management
SOFO - State of the World's Forests
TFAP - Tropical Forestry Action Plan


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ECA, 1997: African Statistical Yearbook

FAO, 1993- The Challenge of Sustainable Forest Management

FAO 1994 - TFAP Evaluation

FAO 1995 - Forest Resources Assessment 1990- global synthesis

FAO, 1996 - Forestry Policies of Selected Countries in Africa, FAO Forestry Paper 132.

FAO 1997a - State of the World's Forests (SOFO)

FAO, 1997b- Wildlife and Food Security in Africa, FAO Conservation Guide 33.

FAO, 1997c -XIth World Forestry Congress (1997): Volume 5

FAO 1998a - NFP Update 33

FAO 1998b- AFWC/98/2 State of Forestry and Wildlife in Africa

FAO 1998c - Report of the 11th Session of the AFWC

FAO 1999a - State of the World's Forests (SOFO)

FAO 1999b - NFP Survey

Molade, F.S. 1999 - Contribution of Bush meat to Food Security in selected West African Countries, Report for FAO Regional Office for Africa.

Tuffuor, K, 1999 - Forests and Human health in Sub-saharan Africa; Report for FAO Regional Office for Africa.


1 Sustainable forest management entails the balancing of the economic, environmental and social functions and values of forests for the benefit of present and future generations. (FAO, 1999a).

2 Full title - Non-Legally Binding Authoritative Statement of Principles for a Global Consensus on the Management, Conservation and Sustainable Development of All Types of Forests.

3 All major timber producing countries of the region are ITTO members