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Forest experts call for climate related financing, reduction of legal barriers for commercial tree growing in Africa

Prof. Maghembe speaking at the opening of the regional conference
03/10/2017

Forest experts have called upon African governments to recognize the importance of and facilitate financing including climate related financing for tree growing and use in sustainable forest and farm management by smallholders and their producer organizations to enhance rural livelihoods and enterprises, as well their contribution to national economies.

The call is found in a joint declaration made at the conclusion of the Second African Regional Conference of Forest and Farm Producer Organizations (FFPOs) meeting in Morogoro region, Tanzania.

The meeting provided a platform for forest and farm producer organizations for exchanging experiences on business, innovation, youth and gender; and was hosted by the Tanzania National Network of Farmers Groups (MVIWATA) and the National Tree Growers Association of Tanzania.

With the theme - Strengthening Forest and Farm Producers’ Organizations in a Changing Climate’  the meeting attracted the participation of 160 forest experts from at least 15 countries from across the African continent.

It was preceded by a three-day field tour to Iringa region, where participants were able to visit forest and farm producer associations and their activities in the field.

The forest experts urged governments to reduce legal barriers for commercial and sustainable use of forests and trees and non-wood products by smallholders and do everything possible to improve land access and to strengthen land tenure legislation that incentivizes tree growing and sustainable forest and farm management. They pointed out promotion and ensuring of widespread acceptance of trees as an asset both in the growth and use of wood from sustainable forests as a prime contributor to climate change action.

They thus advised their governments to see the initiatives of all participating FFPOs as promising efforts to contribute to the restoration of forest and farm landscape for the benefit of people as a source of income and a as positive for the environment. The forest experts committed to expand their membership and strengthen capacities, with emphasis on improved data on forests and trees and management activities, thereby enhancing respect and legitimacy of their associations.

Commitment to include women, youth and indigenous people

They also pledged to ensure full inclusion of women, youth and indigenous peoples in the forest and farm sector and provide leadership by men and women of high character and organizations with good governance that is democratic, transparent and well-managed.

Furthermore they promised to promote trees as an asset with a broad spectrum of forest products including non-timber products and wood energy, employ agro-forestry practices where appropriate, increase capacity, and add value to products and services along the value chain and increase collaboration with informal and formal, existing or new networks at the national, regional and global levels.

During the meeting the experts discussed successes and challenges and shared experiences, with the goal of improving business strategies that meet their members’ aspirations and outlined their vision for increasing the market share and value of member products, increasing opportunities for women and youth, all while coping with climate change.

Practical lessons

“From this conference, we believe that the FFPOs across Africa will take home practical lessons from their peers in different countries to strengthen their ability to improve livelihoods and access to markets for all of their members — including women and youth — while responding proactively to climate change. FFPOS are key actors in the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals in Africa,” said Jeffrey Campbell, manager of the Forest Farm Facility (FFF) at FAO.

The meeting, which was held between September 28 and 29, was officiated by the Minister for Natural Resources and Tourism for the United Republic of Tanzania, Prof. Jumanne Maghembe and the Country Representative for the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), Fred Kafeero.

It was organized by FAO, the Forest and Farm Facility (FFF), the Action Against Desertification Project, International Family Forest Alliance (IFFA), We Effect, Finnish Farmers, Forest Owners and Rural Entrepreneurs Organisation and Agri-Agency for Food and Forest Development (MTK/FFD), Farm Forestry Smallholder Producers Association of Kenya (FF-SPAK), The Network for Natural Gums and Resins in Africa (NGARA), Africa Forest Enterprises Connect Network (AFECONET), African Union Commission and sponsors/donors.