Financing the conservation of the Green Heart of Africa

Cash flow for conservation in the Congo River Basin

Huge funds have already been committed for the sustainable management of the Congo Basin forests. Some of these have been provided by overseas aid, but regional governments are also ramping up their support for protected area establishment and management. WWF tries to fill the gaps.

The trouble is, we keep coming up short for the levels of funding needed. This is why WWF and partners are exploring various mechanisms to ensure that there is a regular flow of financing for conservation in the future.

Steady cash flow for conservation

One of our major initiatives in this sector is the Congo Basin Biodiversity Sustainable Funding Mechanisms project. The idea is for this effort to be a catalyst for long-term funding.

In addition to exploring the feasibility of a regional trust fund, the project would explore and develop other possible biodiversity conservation financing mechanisms, based for example on conservation concessions, carbon finance, and biological prospecting.

This would constitute a source of potential financing for conservation at the regional level in the Congo River Basin, including options for partnerships to sustain biodiversity conservation efforts. The proposed initiative is one of the major recommendations of the Yaoundé Declaration signed by the Heads of State of Central Africa during a summit held in Yaoundé in March 1999.

The lure of trust funds

Trust funds are bank accounts whose profits are used to finance humanitarian, social, educational or environmental causes. Around the world, they have become an instrument of choice to ensure long-term financing. In practice however, they represent daunting fund-raising challenges, as massive sums are needed to generate modest annual returns.

In the Congo Basin forests, 2 trust funds have been launched. One for the Mont Cameroon area (CAMCOF) and another for the Tri-Nationale de la Sangha (TNS) protected area complex. These have already mobilized commitments of several million euros as endowment from the German Government and a joint initiative of WWF and the Krombacher brewery.

The World Bank/ WWF Alliance has funded a study, which has described in detail a range of possible funding mechanisms for forest management, and is now working with governments to identify and develop the best financing mechanism for the TNS.

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