Global Forest Resources Assessments

Bolstering information about primary forests in Central Africa

Photo credits ©FAO/Anne Branthomme

19 April 2022 – FAO and the Central African Forestry Observatory (OFAC/COMIFAC) are teaming up to organize a workshop session on improving Central African primary forest reporting. The primary forest workshop session will take place in Douala, Cameroon from the 19th to the 22nd of April and is a subsection of a workshop OFAC/COMIFAC is holding on updating Central African forest related indicators. During the primary forest workshop session, representatives from all COMIFAC countries have been invited (Burundi, Cameroun, Chad, Central Africa Republic, Congo, Democratic Republic of Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Rwanda and Sao Tomé & Principe and Angola) to join and discuss how Central African governments can strengthen their reference data collection and reporting capacities at regional and national levels. 

This workshop session is the fourth in a series organized by FAO to review countries’ approaches to monitoring primary forests. The previous three workshops focused on primary forests in boreal biomes, the Latin America and the Caribbean region, and the Asia-Pacific region. The results of each workshop will eventually inform a special FAO study on primary forests. The overall aim of the activity is to enhance the consistency, comparability, completeness, and quality of the data on primary forests reported to the Global Forest Resources Assessment (FRA) by improving existing reporting guidelines and methodologies.

Central Africa is home to 240 million ha of forests, 89 million ha of which consists of primary forests that span across Central and Western Africa according to FRA 2020. On a country-by-country level, the DRC has the fourth largest area of primary forest in the world. However, Central African primary forests are under increasing pressure from various drivers of deforestation, such as agricultural expansion, mineral extraction, infrastructure development, commercial logging as well as charcoal and biofuel production. In fact, according to FRA 2020, the region with the largest loss of primary forest area in 2010 to 2020 was Africa, with Central and Western Africa having an average annual loss of 818 000 ha of primary forest area. 

Central African primary forests play a crucial role in combatting climate change at a global level. Monitoring primary forests in the subregion provides FRA with key biodiversity and conservation indicators, which go on to inform important international forestry goals such as indicator 15.2.1 of the Sustainable Development Goals. 

“By joining their forces, FAO and the OFAC/COMIFAC are also strengthening their collaboration within the Collaborative Forest Resource Questionnaire (CFRQ) to further reduce the reporting burden on countries in the central Africa region and focus on data quality and consistency”, said Anne Branthomme, FAO Forestry Officer. The CFRQ partnership was established in 2011 to further harmonize the data collection and reporting efforts of different organizations and processes. CFRQ partners jointly collect and share forestry data on over 60 percent of the total number of variables collected through the FRA process so that countries only need to report their information once.

The work to improve primary forest reporting is organized with the financial support of the European Union and the Government of Norway.

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