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Central African Forest Initiative launched

Countries join efforts to tackle deforestation in the region

29 September 2015, Rome/New York - FAO welcomed today the launch of a new Central African Forest Initiative (CAFI) aimed at supporting the implementation of essential reforms and enhance investments to effectively address the drivers of deforestation in Central Africa.

Launched on the margins of the UN Sustainable Development Summit in New York, the initiative is a partnership of six Central African countries, donors and international organisations, including the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the World Bank and FAO.

The participating Central African countries are Cameroon, the Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, and the Republic of Congo.

Under the initiative, they will develop investment frameworks to support the sustainable use and conservation of their forest resources which play a vital role in climate change mitigation and poverty alleviation in the region.

FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva hailed the Central African countries for their commitment to address forest-related issues in an integrated way.

“FAO is motivated by the genuine commitment of the Central African countries,” he said. “We welcome the partnership involving North-South and South-South Cooperation.”

“FAO is very pleased to bring to CAFI its technical capacity, and to support joint efforts to ensure a vibrant future for forests and forest-dependent communities,” Graziano da Silva said.

Integrated approach

Central Africa is home to the second largest tropical rainforest area in the world with over 240 million hectares (ha). Despite the fact that the annual rate of natural forest loss is declining in Africa, the region still records the highest forest losses on the planet. The FAO Global Forest Resources Assessment, published earlier this month, revealed an annual loss of about 3.1 million ha of natural forests in Africa in the last five years.

Central African governments face tough challenges to address poverty, food security and climate change which put pressure on their tropical forests. Policy and governance reforms in the region are advancing, but efforts to conserve and sustainably use forests are still fragmented and underfinanced.

The six countries called on the international community to provide the necessary support.

Resource partners supporting this initiative include the European Union, France, Germany, Norway, and the United Kingdom.

Photo: ©FAO/...
FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva at the launch of the new Central African Forest Initiative (CAFI) in New York