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Forests in Africa have been rapidly disappearing and recent assessments suggest that progress towards sustainable forest management has been rather disappointing. While this may appear to justify increasing efforts to improve forest management, this paper highlights the limitations to such an approach. Current trends in African forestry are symptomatic of the larger social and economic situation and interventions in the sector may not be able to address many of the underlying problems in the sector. The impact of key driving forces on future developments suggests that continued forest loss is probably inevitable for at least the next one to two decades. Slow progress towards sustainable forest management is also likely to persist, due to a multitude of constraints. These trends and driving forces present a major dilemma for the forestry sector in Africa, which is that whatever is done to improve forest management may have only a marginal impact. Therefore, it will be essential to assess what is feasible given current levels of social and economic development.
Today in the Central Africa region, production forests under management cover an area similar to that of protected forests. This is the result of a complex process initiated about 10 years ago, after a long gestation history and a sudden increase in speed in the mid 90s. Managed forests should be considered as an essential complement to the fundamental role of protected areas in their efforts to conserve the rich biodiversity of the region, as well as a significant contributor to economic development. In this paper we present new and updated figures about forest management in Central Africa as well as critical points to be addressed if we want to see progress towards better management and conservation.
The forest area in Africa is estimated at 635 million hectares, equivalent to 21 percent of the total land area, or about 0.7 hectares per person. It ranges from undisturbed primary forests (an estimated 9 percent) to modified natural forests (87 percent), semi-natural forests (1 percent) and forest plantations (3 percent). The net loss of forests remains alarmingly high at an estimated 4.0 million hectares per annum between 2000 and 2005. However, the rate of loss is decreasing when compared to the 1990s and is lower than previously assessed. These and other findings of the recently concluded Global Forest Resources Assessment 2005 provide a detailed picture of the current status and trends related to forests in Africa. The findings also show that the rate of afforestation is increasing, as is the area of forest designated for the conservation of biological diversity. Yet, African forests remain under threat from population growth and unsustainable forestry and agricultural practices.
This paper presents information about three main indicators of the economic importance of the forestry sector in Africa (employment, value-added in production and the value of exports) for the period 1990 to 2000. This information is presented as absolute amounts and as proportions of total employment, gross domestic product (GDP) and merchandise exports. It also presents partial information about the contribution of forest charges to government revenue and the value of informal production in the sector. For the year 2000, the sector employed 0.16 percent of the total African workforce and accounted for 1.5 percent of GDP and 2.2 percent of merchandise exports. Over the decade, the absolute amount of all three variables increased, but the contribution to employment decreased, contribution to GDP increased and the contribution to trade remained roughly the same. There is considerable variation in these indicators between African countries, which is largely due to their different levels of population and economic development.
This paper places forestry in the larger context of rural development and therefore in the current debates on poverty and inequality. While Africa has high levels of natural and human capital it is the poorest and most unequal region in the world. In order for natural assets to contribute to environmental, economic and empowerment outcomes four principle interlinked changes are needed: 1) Improve the recognition of the fundamental role of natural resources in economic growth of poor countries and poor populations and in the development of democracies and good governance; 2) Better distribute resource rights, both property and procedural, giving the poor greater security, access and control; 3) Develop and implement frameworks, regulations and enforcement to assure that natural resource markets work for the poor; 4) Redefine the role of science and technology, and associated planning and institutions.
Africa's humid dense forests cover approximately 260 million ha and shelter a population of more than 200 million inhabitants. They represent an enormous potential for conservation and development of both the states and the populations concerned. But these forests can only contribute effectively to sustained development if they, themselves, are managed in a sustainable manner. However, these forests continue to be the subject of constant degradation resulting from the pressure exerted by a generally poor population that is rowing and carrying out various activities which are incompatible with environmental protection.
The management of Africa's humid dense forests is confronted with many difficulties of which the most important are: an insufficient knowledge of the resources available, a lack of technical options regarding sustainable management and conservation, conflict with populations, and institutional weakness in the majority of the countries, characterized by insufficient human and material capacity to permit forest administrations to face the requirements of a sustainable forest management.
Significant efforts to address these problems have been made in recent years and if current efforts are maintained and supported by the international community, and if firm measures are taken to ensure a greater participation of the populations and the private sector, then it is possible that the management of the humid dense forest in Africa is at a positive turning point in its history.
South Africa is a water scarce country which requires special conditions and limitations being placed on water use. Forestry's water use is classified as a Streamflow Reduction Activity (SFRA) and is subject to a range of special conditions under the National Water Act. No forestry can be practiced without an SFRA licence. Through this, forestry's ability to expand its estate has been curtailed. Better understanding about forestry's water use and more research on the issue is recommended. The forestry industry, however, is proactive in forest hydrology and is finding innovative ways to ensure continued and increased productivity.
In natural resource-dependent economies such as those in Africa, land, forests, and water are the primary environmental goods and sources of livelihoods. This paper focuses on land and forests, and examines how, where, and under what conditions the absolute and relative lack of access to and/or misuse of these resources can trigger, cause, and amplify conflict. The paper underlines the importance of increased investment in sustainable land and forest management and the value of integrating environmental security into the national development policy agenda as key strategies that will facilitate progress towards the attainment of enduring peace and sustainable development.
The African resource, and in particular the Congo Basin contains the world's second largest forest area, after the Amazon, and there is a global concern for it to be sustainably managed. Practical solutions are essential if sustainable forest management is to be achieved, considering the costs and technical capacity involved. However, a certain number of difficulties must be overcome such as ill-adapted forestry laws, lack of necessary technical capacity amongst the managers and the actual cost of management. Solutions for sustainable forest management therefore include training and negotiations to better adapt legislation as well as practical issues such as reduced impact logging and the promotion of secondary species which will not only have a positive effect on the regeneration and management of the forest, but which are also more efficient in terms of costs. Certification is also a means of achieving a premium to offset the increased costs of sustainable forest management.
The imposition of UN sanctions on Liberian timber helped shut down Liberia's highly corrupt timber sector and bring an end to its long civil war in 2003. As part of its overall effort to support reform and reconstruction in Liberia, the U.S. Government in 2004 established the Liberia Forest Initiative (LFI), a cross-cutting approach to forest sector reform intended to build transparency, sustainability and good governance in the management of the three branches of Liberian forestry: the commercial sector, conservation, and community forestry. The effort quickly attracted strong support from the international community, including the World Bank, FAO, IUCN, EC, CIFOR, and Fauna and Flora International. LFI now functions as an informal multidonor partnership, working closely with Liberian authorities and civil society to implement far-reaching reforms and establish conditions that could permit the lifting of UN sanctions. The LFI partnership has achieved significant successes in terms of multi-donor coordination, consensus building, engagement with host country authorities, and interaction with civil society, some of which may serve as a model for action in other countries.
The paper provides an overview of experiences in Tanzania to date in ‘scaling up’ Participatory Forest Management (PFM) from what has until recently been a ‘project-driven’ approach to one that is mainstreamed and embedded within national and local government institutions. It highlights the valuable role that projects have played in influencing policy, developing new models and tools, but also some of the pitfalls of the project approach, particularly with regard to local expectations, the lack of sustainability and failure to integrate within local institutions and systems. In addition, the paper assesses the degree to which different models of Participatory Forest Management (PFM) have delivered on their two main policy objectives — sustainable forest management and improved rural livelihoods. The paper outlines some of the enabling factors as well as constraints to further dissemination and scaling-up of PFM in Tanzania — looking at political, institutional, social and economic dimensions.
People's livelihoods and the forests upon which they depend are frequently threatened because people are marginalized from governance. The Forest Governance Learning Group is an independent alliance developing practical tactics for making progress in such situations in Africa. It recognises that the current international drive to combat illegal forestry could do more harm than good if social justice is not brought centre-stage. In Malawi and Mozambique sub-groups have recognised the real danger that communities will disengage from forest stewardship unless practical mechanisms for their ownership and responsibility are found. In Uganda, a sub-group has used the space created by decentralisation and high-profile cases of timber trade corruption to develop improved systems. In Ghana, the work points to the potential powder keg created at community level by those involved in flouting the law and over-harvesting timber. A renegotiation amongst stakeholders through forest forums is being called for in bringing the major abusers to book.
Africa is rich in forest resources, though their distribution between countries and even within countries is highly uneven. This distribution is potentially good for trade within individual countries and between countries. The human and institutional capacity to take advantage of these resources in socio-economic development of the continent remains weak. On one hand governments and donors have invested heavily in the sector while on the other various macroeconomic policies have put brakes on this investment, specifically in curtailing the development of human capacity in the sector. There are various initiatives to correct this at the national level, for example through national forestry programmes that are increasingly becoming linked to poverty alleviation strategies. Various international processes, agreements, and conventions, if strategically implemented, hold potential to increase the capacity of the sector in national development. Donor support for capacity building should have clear plans for transfer of skills and institutional reinforcement.
It is widely acknowledged that support for classical forestry education worldwide is declining and that new forestry-related programmes are developing. It is difficult to be precise about the fundamental causes of this situation as there are no direct cause-effect relationships, but it appears that there is a complex interplay of forces at global and local scales that make classical forestry education appear obsolete.
Classical forestry education treated forests as distinct entities defined in time and space (minimum tree/canopy density in an area) and forest science has been built around the ecological, biological and economic importance of that ‘entity’. However as the social, cultural and environmental aspects of forestry grow in importance, particularly in Africa and much of the tropical developing world, they are re-defining forests and extending the bounds of forestry to include trees in different landscapes, including even non-wooded landscapes. This requires foresters to ‘think outside the box’, but learning to deal with forestry issues ‘outside the forest’ is one challenge that is yet to be fully integrated into forestry education. This paper relates Africa's experiences in order to initiate discussions about the way forward.
Forests and forestry are extremely important for many African countries as a means of socio-economic development. This can be accomplished by generating revenue and employment and improving the livelihoods of local populations through the accompanying utilities and social actions. To improve the livelihoods of rural villages, it is important to establish a link between their surpluses of production and the legal market. It is also important also to create a strong internal legal market in order to attract investments.
Unfortunately organised gangs and corruption have taken control of the local market in many cases and have become involved in deforestation and poaching. Recognising that these countries require responsible players, logging companies that are committed to sustainable development could play a greater part in the local and international development and bring economic growth to these countries. However, the investment climate in many African countries is currently unfavourable due to political risks and weak governance, the instability of fiscal policies and legislation, the illegal forest sector in addition to the high costs of sustainable forest management and the inaccessibility to loans. Encouraging responsible companies to invest in forestry in Africa, through tax reforms for example, is essential for the socio-economic development in many African forested countries.
A paradigm is a parallel model of beliefs, truths or world-views. Paradigm change in forestry implies change of standard thought models and established truth. External interest groups and institutions argue that forestry and foresters are out-of-touch with science and society, and their paradigms obsolete. A ‘new’ forestry must be invented and new attitudes taken. Rehabilitation would involve restructuring, new rules, high-density regulation and close monitoring. The author argues that this indicates a bizarre misconception of the nature and role of forestry and reveals a potentially dangerous goal perception. Examples from the Congo Basis are used to identify the real motives behind the calls for change. Inventing ‘new’ forestry in fact reinvents ‘old’ traditionally social and holistic forestry. The problem is that forestry and foresters have grown out-of-touch with financial and political power, the formerly strong integrative role of multiple-function forestry has dwindled without substitute under the impact of newly emerging forces in politics and civil society. The roles have changed, external paradigm changes, some naïve, some for ulterior motives, have now overcome foresters and forestry, but not for the better of the people.
The forest sector is not always as unique as foresters tend to think. In the case of international assistance, this sector has by and large followed the broader trends in official development assistance (ODA). This article seeks to demonstrate how the forest sector could capitalize on emerging trends in ODA, relating its objectives more directly to broader development goals, and championing the shift from project-based interventions to newer instruments of support. It begins with an assessment of the performance of forest-related ODA in the past, continues to look at new directions and trends in ODA, and concludes with consideration of how these trends could be integrated into ongoing and future forest programs.
This paper examines three major shifts in U.S. foreign assistance since 2000 that have had major impacts on USAID programming decisions in forestry. The first reflects a heightened awareness of the role development plays in meeting U.S. national security objectives. The second is a trend toward privatizing foreign assistance — adopting a new economic paradigm for sustainable development. The third supports the U.S. Government and USAID commitment to use local or indigenous expertise in implementing their programmes. Taken together, these changes will likely have profound effects on how USAID operates and funds programme development in all sectors, including forestry, in the coming years. This paper also presents examples of current programmes which illustrate programming trends within the forest sector.
Swedish donor support to forestry in Africa has reduced during the last 10–15 years in spite of an over-all increase in Swedish support to the region. Many forestry projects have encountered problems, but this experience has provided knowledge which can be used to improve projects. As a result narrow forestry projects have largely ceased and forestry is now considered part of broader natural resource management programmes.
Changes in the aid administration such as decentralisation, budget support and harmonization are reducing the possibilities for support to forestry and it is therefore unlikely that Sida will support large bilateral programmes in Africa in the future. Instead most support to forestry will target regional and global programmes managed by international organizations. However, any aid specifically targeted for forestry will require that countries show commitment to sustainable forest management.
This article outlines the strategy, main features and priorities of German Development Cooperation in the forest sector in Africa. Details are provided from country case studies in Benin, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the Republic of the Congo, Cameroon, Madagascar, Tanzania and the Congo basin region.
In the forest sector, Germany supports the formulation and implementation of national forest programmes as an overall framework for forest policies in the countries concerned. Intensive support is provided in the fields of forest sector reform, forest certification, community-based forest management, and sustainable management of protected areas. Support is also given to establishing new instruments and strategies designed to secure sustainable financing for protected areas. German Development Cooperation will also strengthen the development of two new approaches in the coming years, namely regional integration — as in the Congo basin — and Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade (FLEGT).
This comment is a reflection on the process of adapting donor approaches to changed realities in development work, using the forestry sector as a case study. Increased focus on issues including integration of traditional sectors in a comprehensive development process, harmonising the approaches of donors, emphasising the importance of linking up with national strategies of developing countries, shifting focus from projects to sector support and to budget support, and shifting donor decision making from headquarters to embassies or in-country representations represent changes that challenge the way development work has been planned and executed over the last decade.