Africa’s forest resources are among the richest and most diverse in the world and are crucial for the welfare of its people, as well as for biological diversity and climate regulation. Yet, despite conservation efforts, the destruction of forests, woodlands and wildlife continues unabated, largely driven by forces outside the forest sector.
The priorities for forest resources management focus on combating deforestation and forest degradation, especially in arid and semi arid countries, promoting sustainable forest management practices in West moist and Central Africa and pursuing efforts in strengthening national capacities in West and Central Africa to undertake and improve forest resources assessment.
Contribution of forests, trees outside forests and wildlife resources to food security and poverty alleviation is a high priority to Africa. In this respect, activities focus on sustainable utilisation of forest and wildlife products as well as on wood energy. Forestry technical area aims at strengthening the emerging partnership between FAO and governments and NGOs, in order to improve forest-food statistics, to develop food safety standards, to encourage domestication and to sustainably manage dwindling natural supplies, including wild meat.
In the context of supporting Regional and Sub-regional initiatives RAFT/forestry will seek to strengthen the CAADP and NEPAD Environment Initiatives among others by working with farmers to protect upstream watershed catchment functions through maintenance of forest cover and use of agroforestry and associated soil conservation practices. RAFT/FO works towards developing closer collaboration with River Basin Authorities, Development Partners and Other UN Agencies at Regional and Sub-regional Levels.
Support to Regional and Sub-regional forestry policies and institutions is pursued in the context of National Forest Programmes and with support from the nfp Facility.
In follow-up to requests and recommendations of the African Forestry and Wildlife Commission (AFWC), priority attention will also be accorded to forest protection, especially bush fire prevention and control at national level, and promoting Regional and Sub-regional cooperation on wild fires.
The role of the AFWC will be enhanced, especially in an expanded role of its Executive Committee. This will work towards ensuring regional collaboration on forestry and wildlife priorities in Africa and, especially, for the implementation of the UNFF process, follow-up to World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD) in Africa and building strategic partnerships with regional & sub-regional organisations. Special emphasis is placed on the role of forestry in the context of NEPAD Initiatives and in the pursuit of Millennium Development Goals.
In 2008 and 2009, the RAFT/Forestry programme shall concentrate its activities in the recommendations addressed to FAO under the themes debated at the 16th Session of AFWC (17 -21 February 2008), including:
- Forests and climate change
- Forests and water
- Forests and energy (including bioenergy interface between forestry, agriculture and livestock)
- Forests and wild fires (closely related to the climate change issues)
The role of wildlife and protected areas in the sustainable development of African countries
- Communication and information exchange. Entails timely provision of information on forestry and wildlife statistics and data for African countries through publication of Nature & Faune as a vehicle for dissemination of information on African forestry and wildlife resources; and also through linking with FRA, nfp-update and Forest Products Stats to proactively work with countries of Africa on forestry stats issues
Support to national forest programmes, largely through the nfp Facility, an innovative partnership among developing countries, leading international partners and FAO.
Cross-cutting issues such as forest financing; gender and forests; and the role of forests in poverty alleviation are continuously taken into account in the forestry programme activities in Africa. Furthermore a new FAO Forestry Strategy is being developed and RAFT/Forestry provides the African response to this important exercise led by the FAO Headquarters.
The “secret of success” for the RAF/Forestry programme lies on networking and partnerships. Internally, collaboration in terms of joint activities is continuously explored within the RAFT/NR-FI-FO programme, as well as with the other thematic areas at RAF. The Regional forestry officer seeks to promote and facilitate the communication, harmonization of work plans and joint activities amongst the four sub-regional forestry officers in sub-saharan Africa (SFW - Accra, SFE - Addis, SFC - Libreville and SFS - Harare). This effort includes the nfp Facilitators stationed in Accra, Kampala and Pretoria.
Another important element animated by the Regional Forestry Officer is the bureau of the AFWC.
Partnerships outside the organization are cultivated and intensified, especially with the African Forest Forum, the AU secretariat and UNECA, and the NEPAD/CADPP programmes. Support to the sub-regional forestry related processes at the COMIFAC, ECOWAS, SADC and other sub-regional organizations is very important for FAO and shall be pursued further. Partnerships with ICRAF (the World Agroforestry Center), Bioversity ( formerly IPGRI-Plant Genetic Resources Institute), CIFOR (Center for International Forestry Research), IUFRO (International Union of Forestry Research Organizations), ITTO (International Tropical Timber Organization), ATO (African Timber Organization), CI (Conservation International), WWF and World Vision International, exist and will be reinforced. The Regional forestry officer would guarantee a good flow of information and exchange of experience amongst them, and amongst similar processes in other regions.
RAF/Forestry aims to provide continuing support to member countries and African organizations for them to understand and respond in a concerted manner to issues arising from the global forest debates. Particular attention shall be given to UNFF, CPF, and the forest related multilateral environmental agreements (MEA). The following partnership programmes exist:
EC-FAO partnership program
African Development Bank
African Academy of Sciences (AAS)
Regional Economic International Organizations (e.g. COMESA, ECCAS, ECOWAS, IGAD, SADC, UEMOA, CILSS)
Liberia Forest initiative
Forest Invasive Species Network for Africa
Regional Forestry Officer
FAO Regional Office for Africa
Forestry Departmental Group
PO Box GP 1628, Accra, Ghana
Tel: +233 30 2675000 ext. 3202
Fax: +233 30 2668427