Posted on April 9, 2018 7:26:00 AM
UPDATE: On Tuesday, 10 April, CAFI, represented by 5 Board members and its Secretariat, convened a roundtable discussion with INGOs (CIFOR, CIRAD, EFI, ETH Zurich, Tropenbos, WCS, WRI, WWF), development partners (AFD, UNDP, FAO), and representatives of the DRC government and civil society.
This knowledge exchange sought to discuss and deconstruct the complexity and trends of the forest sector in the Central African region, and DRC in particular.
Through frank and cordial dialogues emerged the sentiment that continued research and collaboration to prevent the loss of Central African forests was necessary.
What does CAFI do in Central Africa?
This was a chance for Head of CAFI Secretariat, Berta Pesti to remind participants of CAFI’s two equally important impacts, “1) reduce pressure on forests and; 2) generate dividends for the general population and the economy.”
Amongst the group, CAFI’s use of a Letter Of Intent (LOI) was recognised as a unique tool to engage policy dialogue with governments at a high and cross-sectoral level (currently adopted for the DRC and Gabon).
Trends and data
ETH- Zurich presented data and insights regarding current debates and consensus on the impacts of the forestry sector in the region. Whilst acknowledging the consensus around the regeneration of carbon stocks after logging, it was also recognised that there is no universal time reference for full regeneration.
WRI followed with a presentation on trends of forest loss in DRC. The strong correlation with shifting cultivation was highlighted, yet it was stressed that “Not all shifting cultivation is created equal”, and that shifting cultivation patterns need to be better understood.
The situation in the DRC
The afternoon kicked off with a presentation of the CAFI portfolio in DRC – with a reminder that if the recent illegal contracts, in breach of the 2002 moratorium, are not cancelled, CAFI funding to the forest sector will not go ahead (see public statement).
The group then discussed regional trends in the forest sector, highlighting issues related to transparency, before exploring the topic of artisanal logging in DRC, underlining its largely informal nature, but also the revenue it generates for local populations.
Based on experience in the DRC, Tropenbos and WWF reflected on the costs of formalization as prohibitive, stating that artisanal loggers need support to reduce the costs; through policy dialogue, organization of associations, etc.
The DRC Sustainable Forest Management programme
AFD presented the Sustainable Forest Management project proposal - that had previously sparked much public debate.
Able to demystify some of the misconceptions surrounding the project, the group responded positively to the idea of strengthened governance in the forestry sector and improved capacity for compliance monitoring. Exchanges focused on the need for the specific consideration of peatlands, the role of decentralized entities in forest management, and the need to capitalize on civil society experience with community forestry.
Each participant then received a copy of the full proposal, and has been invited to provide comment.
There are still many questions that need to be addressed. The consensus: We’ll be stronger and more capable of preventing Central African forest loss if we exchange data and information, cooperate and collaborate.
Keen to continue this dialogue, CAFI will organize other opportunities to discuss on a range of topics. Land use planning will be the main focus of the CAFI Annual Forum that will be held right after the Oslo Tropical Forest Forum in June 2018.
PREVIOUSLY: In February, the Minister of Environment in DRC allocated logging concessions in breach of the 2002 moratorium. Subsequently, all CAFI funds were frozen and remain so, until their reversal. Importantly, CAFI remains in a dialogue with the DRC REDD+ Fund (FONAREDD) and the DRC Government, with a view to jointly address the many challenges leading to forest loss.
On Tuesday, April 10, CAFI will welcome participants from a range of INGOs to Geneva. The objective? To discuss and deconstruct the complexity of deforestation in the region and DRC in particular. While there is general agreement on the drivers of deforestation - primarily agriculture, wood energy, forestry, mining and oil, infrastructure, land use planning, land tenure, demography, and governance - their relative impact is debated by some. It's not simple and requires a holistic response.
Logging concessions, for example, have been pointed as major culprits. But in fact, 96% of the total volume of wood harvested in DRC is for fuelwood, the rest is for timber. Of this remaining 4%, only about 10% is harvested by logging concessions - the lowest timber harvest volumes amongst Central African countries. One underlying - but less talked about issue? Population growth.
CAFI champions the belief that the prevention of forest loss demands a holistic approach - that all major drivers of deforestation must be addressed. This is imperative in the DRC, given the complicated development challenges faced. It’s vital that we advocate for interventions that can ensure economic development alongside the preservation of the Central African Forest.
What is the science-based evidence? What consensus can be reached? Can CAFI convince others that the fight against climate change must include DRC and Central African forests? CAFI considers these upcoming discussions as an important step toward a more collaborative and cooperative approach to forest preservation.
See full agenda here.
Find out more about CAFI in the DRC:
Homepage news article Event Democratic Republic of Congo