Yaoundé Forest Declaration - Partners
Originally called the "Conference of Ministers", the Commission of Ministers in charge of Forests in Central Africa, or COMIFAC in short, was established soon after the Yaoundé Summit. It was mandated by the Heads of State to implement the Yaoundé Declaration.
The only decision-making body on forests in Central Africa, it is also charged with steering, coordinating and supervising initiatives and actions related to the conservation and sustainable management of forests in the sub-region. COMIFAC's establishment has facilitated efforts to put the various forest related initiatives under one umbrella.
World Bank/WWF Alliance For Forest Conservation and Sustainable Use
In response to the global forest crisis, the World Bank and WWF have entered into an unprecedented alliance to work with governments, the private sector and civil society to reduce significantly the loss and degradation of all forest types worldwide. The Alliance is working towards this goal by promoting forest conservation and internationally recognised best practices in forest management.
Since its support of the Yaoundé Forest Summit in 1999, the Alliance has remained actively engaged in helping to implement the Yaoundé Declaration. The Alliance has also supported subsequent ministerial and technical meetings to the Yaoundé Summit. In 2003, the Alliance supported the development of an action plan for the Tri-National des la Sangha (TNS), one of the first transboundary protected areas created as a follow up to the Yaoundé Summit, and which covers Cameroon, Republic of Congo and the Central African Republic. The Alliance is also helping in the design and establishment of a conservation trust fund for TNS.
Congo Basin Forest Partnership (CBFP)
The Congo Basin Forest Partnership groups together 29 governmental and non-governmental organizations. It works to improve communication and coordination among members vis-à-vis their projects, programmes, and policies to promote sustainable management of the Congo Basin Forest ecosystems and wildlife, and to improve the lives of people living in the region. Launched by the US and South Africa, it was announced in September 2002 by US Secretary of State Colin Powell with a four-year USAID grant of US$53 million.
The CBFP does not itself implement or fund programmes and has no secretariat or staff. Instead, it provides a service to donors and implementing agencies working in the region by operating as an information clearinghouse, a mechanism for promoting coordination of programmes across multiple donors and implementing agencies, and a forum for dialogue.
The CBFP aims to increase awareness of the programmes being funded and implemented by its member organizations, enhance the efficiency of these programmes and relevant coordination processes, and identify and eliminate gaps and overlaps in programmes and funding. In doing so, the partnership hopes to encourage potential donors to engage in the Congo Basin region and the crucial work of protecting its globally important endowments of wildlife and biological diversity, ensuring good governance, and raising the living standards of its people.
African Timber Organization (ATO)
Established in 1993 in cooperation with the European Union and the Center for International Forestry Research ( CIFOR), the African Timber Organisation's main focus is to “promote the implementation of sustainable forest management in ATO member countries”. The following Central African countries are ATO members: Cameroon, Central African Republic, Republic of Congo ( Brazzaville ), Democratic Republic of Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon and Sao Tome et Principe.
ATO concluded a Memorandum of Understanding with WWF's Central Africa Regional Programme Office to collaborate on promoting sustainable management of natural forests and the valorisation of their resources in Central Africa. Specific areas of collaboration include:
- implementation of resolutions related to sustainable forest management and credible certification, timber trade and promotion of chain of custody;
- support for the establishment and functioning of the Producers Group affiliated to WWF, to benefit the sustainable management of Africa's tropical forests, as well as follow up on the establishment and functioning of National Working Groups for sustainable forest management;
- development and promotion of the ATO/ITTO Principles, Criteria and Indicators for sustainable management of Africa's natural tropical forests; and
- capacity building of key actors in sustainable forest management and forest certification.
DGIS - Dutch Directorate General for International Cooperation
The DGIS has largely funded conservation projects in Gabon's two major forest protected areas: the Gamba Protected Areas Complex covering 1,132,000 hectares, and the Minkébé Forest Block covering 600,000 hectares.
Although primarily tropical rainforest, the Gamba Protected Areas Complex covers a range of habitats including beaches, lagoons, untouched forests, swamps, mangroves and savannas. It is one of the last places in Africa where elephants and hippopotamuses can be seen bathing in the sea and, in the area around Monts Doudou, there are large numbers of western lowland gorillas. WWF is implementing a participatory management process in the area, involving stakeholders ranging from oil companies and government agencies to the local communities who depend on the forests for their survival.
The Minkébé Forest Block is a cornerstone in the proposed transborder conservation initiative spanning Cameroon, Gabon and Congo-Brazzaville, and known as the Dja-Odzala-Minkebe Tri-national (TRIDOM). It is the largest intact forest in the north-western Congolian ecoregion, containing what may be the largest elephant population in the Congo Basin. The DGIS-supported WWF project is focusing on building capacity for law enforcement, controlling hunting in logging concessions, developing collaborative management with pygmy communities and gold-miners, and developing a master plan for the Minkebe Forest Block.
DGIS is now supporting WWF in promoting sustainable forest management in the Congo Basin. The work involves assisting in the field implementation of stringent legal forestry frameworks recently adopted in Cameroon, Democratic Republic of Congo, and Gabon. Strengthening local ownership of sustainable forest management policies and practices is deemed crucial to improve the accountability of local stakeholders and reduce illegal logging in these countries.
The European Commission
Together with DGIS, the European Commission has been supporting WWF conservation efforts aimed at promoting responsible forestry in the Congo Basin. The Commission currently funds work supporting sustainable forest management policies in Central Africa, namely Cameroon and Gabon.
It also helps timber companies in implementing integrated, practical and sustainable management plans in their logging concessions. The project will support industrial logging companies to reinforce the social and environmental components of their sustainable forest management plans so as to benefit local people.
ECOFAC: in partnership with the European Commission
Since 1992, the European Commission has funded the regional programme ECOFAC - the "Conservation and rational use of forest ecosystems in Africa." ECOFAC manages protected zones and their surrounding area in Cameroon, Congo-Brazzaville, Gabon, Equatorial Guinea, the Central African Republic and Saõ Tomé et Principé.
ECOFAC's activities revolve around three major tasks:
- creating and managing protected areas that are particularly rich in biodiversity;
- proposing alternatives for activities that use forest resources in order to ensure the sustainability of natural resources and long-term development;
- contributing to the possible development of a regional strategy for the sustainable use of natural resources in Central Africa through the creation of a network of protected areas.
The Belgian Development Cooperation
The Belgian Development Cooperation supports a project promoting sustainable management and conservation of forests in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). With more than 100 million hectares of relatively untouched tropical forests, DRC has an extraordinary potential of economic wealth, and therefore interest from logging companies.
The project here therefore seeks to work with timber companies who are committed to responsible forestry while ensuring that logging activities contribute to the socio-economic development of local populations. Another focus of the project is in providing support to the design of a new forest policy in DRC.
The French Government
The French Government has long been supporting conservation in the Central African region, and currently holds the presidency of the Congo Basin Forest Partnership, taking over from the US Government. Three government agencies are active in the region, each in its own field of expertise: Agence Française de Développement (AFD), Fonds Français pour l’Environnement Mondial (FFEM) and Direction Générale de Coopération Internationale et de Développement (DGCID).
DGCID supports capacity building in sustainable forest management through training and technical assistance. It plans to develop environmental information exchange in order to support better governance in the region. AFD gives loans to companies or grants to governments, like the Central African Republic, for developing quality forest management plans. FFEM is financing specific biodiversity studies for inclusion in the management plans financed by AFD. It also supports wild fauna management and bushmeat control, and ECOFAC (see above).
The German Government
Germany's support for conservation in the Congo Basin is through the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ). The Ministry finances projects in COMIFAC member states carried out by the German Cooperation for Technical Development (GTZ) and the German Development Bank (KfW).
BMZ regards the creation of a juridical sound framework as vital to assuring sustainable conservation financing. To this end, it assists COMIFAC member states with the COMIFAC ratification process. Additionally, the German Government supports the establishment of a Trust Fund in the Congo Basin. BMZ views collaboration with the private sector in the Congo Basin as a positive step. Examples of such collaborations include the establishment of a private trust fund- the "Krombacher Fund" - for Dzanga Sangha National Park or the development of participatory management plans for natural resources in Democratic Republic of Congo and Central African Republic.
The German Government also regards the Congo Basin Forest Partnership (CBFP) as an important component of the Yaoundé Process. It sees the CBFP as having a central role in supporting the efforts of COMIFAC member states, especially regional cooperation. Germany will continue to promote the CBFP through its bilateral support at national and regional levels. In particular, in Cameroon (€14 million), Democratic Republic of Congo (€11 million), and Central African Republic (€4 million).
In these countries, the German Government supports the management of various protected areas (eg. Dzanga Sangha in Central African Republic, and Lobeke in Cameroon). The German Government emphasizes that implementation of regional strategies of the strategic convergence plan (“plan de convergence”) must be within the context of national forest programmes.
Germany has also agreed to support the Congo Basin Initiative with €5 million for advisory services of the COMIFAC process.
USAID and CARPE
The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) supports the Central African Regional Programme for the Environment (CARPE) to identify and begin to establish the conditions and practices needed to reduce deforestation and biodiversity loss in the Congo Basin.
The Programme's results serve as the essential foundation for a longer-term (15-20 year) effort to manage forest resources in a sustainable way. CARPE's core philosophy is to facilitate the involvement of African partners to ensure that African decision makers have access to, and the capacity to use, information which is critical to rational forest resource management.
USAID also provided a four-year grant of US$53 million in 2002 for the Congo Basin Forest Partnership.
As a result of a project proposal developed with WWF and its governmental and non-governmental partners, the UNDP-GEF has approved a US$10 million grant to the Dja-Odzala-Minkebe Tri-National (TRIDOM). Through this, the Governments of Cameroon, Gabon and Congo, together with WWF and partners, will put in place long-term resource management and financing systems needed to achieve conservation objectives.
The project will assist the three governments in designing and implementing a coherent land-use plan that designates protected areas, permanent forest and rural development areas. It will also help build capacity to manage resource use and monitor trends in biodiversity and ecosystem functions through an effective law enforcement system; develop collaborative management schemes with the private sector and communities, including, in particular, indigenous people; and implement a cost-effective monitoring system.
The project also seeks to find ways to improve benefits for local communities through revenues generated from alternative livelihoods initiative to ease pressure off natural resources, and setting up a diversified sustainable financing scheme to cover the core management costs in TRIDOM, particularly cost related to law enforcement and protected area management in the long term.
CEFDHAC and IUCN-World Conservation Union
CEFDHAC - the Conference on Lowland Tropical Moist Forests in Central Africa - is coordinated by IUCN-the World Conservation Union which has more than 900 member institutions in 138 countries. CEFDHAC seeks to provide a forum for governments, technical specialists, NGOs and the private sector to coordinate their activities in favour of forest conservation in Central Africa. To date, the following countries are involved in the CEFDHAC programme: Burundi, Cameroon, the Central African Republic, Congo-Brazzaville, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Rwanda and Saõ Tomé et Principé.
IUCN is also actively engaged in the implementation of the Congo Basin Forest Partnership and is committed to supporting the Partnership’s activities through its work in Central Africa.
African Wildlife Foundation (AWF)
The African Wildlife Foundation (AWF), together with the people of Africa, works to ensure that the wildlife and wild lands of Africa will endure forever. AWF is actively engaged in the implementation of the Congo Basin Forest Partnership (CBFP) and is leading on work in one of the 11 CBFP priority landscapes.
Conservation International (CI)'s mission is to conserve the Earth’s living natural history and global biodiversity, and to demonstrate that human societies are able to live harmoniously with nature. CI is leading work in one of the Congo Basin Forest Partnership priority landscapes.
In Gabon, CI is focusing on providing ecotourism and communications support to the national parks, within the framework of a grant from the Moore Foundation to three organizations. CI and WWF are also collaborating in the Monte Alen-Monte de Cristal landscape and in the Maiko-Lutunguru Tayna-Kahuzi Biega where WWF is active in Kahuzi Biega.
WCS - World Conservation Society
The Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) saves wildlife and wild lands through careful science, international conservation, education, and the management of the world’s largest system of urban wildlife parks. These activities change attitudes toward nature and help people imagine wildlife and humans living in sustainable interaction on both a local and a global scale. WCS is committed to this work as it believes it essential to the integrity of life on Earth. WCS is actively engaged in the implementation of the Congo Basin Forest Partnership and leads on work in four of the 11 CBFP priority landscapes.
They are also collaborating in the Dja-Odzala-Minkebe Tri-Nati onal (TRIDOM), Monte-Alen-Monts de Cristal, Gamba-Conkouati, Lac Tele-Lac Tumba, and Salonga landscapes. In Gabon, with a grant from the Moore Foundation, WCS, WWF and CI are providing support to the newly-created network of national parks through a range of activities including communications, ecotourism development and capacity building.