News | 24.09.2021
In early August, the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS) and COMIFAC co-organized a workshop in Brazzaville on the definition of the terms "forests", "deforestation" and "forest degradation".
It is indeed fundamental to target actions in the forest landscape and to fight against deforestation (including imported deforestation) to have precise definitions of these concepts. However, these definitions are currently lacking, as the situation in tropical countries, including within the Congo Basin, is so complex and heterogeneous.
The objective of this workshop was to reflect on a better positioning of agroforestry and livestock products in forest areas on regional, national and international markets.
After an initial discussion session, participants were divided into three groups to work on specific themes:
It emerged from this workshop that there is an urgent need to reach a harmonized definition of the concepts of "forests", "deforestation" and "forest degradation". These should take into account a number of criteria, such as historical aspects, species present in the region, or biodiversity. However, due to the complexity of these concepts and the diversity of forest ecosystems in the Congo Basin sub-region, participants were unable to agree on a common definition of "forest". In order to define the terms "deforestation" and "forest degradation", it is first necessary to agree on the definition of "forest". Nevertheless, the exchanges remained enriching.
In the end, the discussions focused more on the forestry-wood sector than on the workshop's target activities: agroforestry and livestock. In addition, participants recommended that ECCAS strengthen its actions in the forestry-wood sector, in particular by putting in place a forestry policy specific to the Congo Basin, by harmonizing regulations on taxation and logging standards, by communicating internationally on the Congo Basin, the largest certified forest in the world, and its capacity to regulate climate change, or by establishing effective monitoring of forest management. In general, it was recommended that ECCAS, COMIFAC and their member states develop the promotion of national initiatives to combat climate change, to improve forestry practices, to restore forest landscapes, but also to better promote forest certification.
In order to put in place an institutional and organizational framework conducive to the development of a sustainable economic system in Central Africa, COMIFAC and ECCAS were also encouraged to work with the region's institutions involved in forest area management, to strengthen their capacity, and to provide the necessary funding.
Finally, participants reached various conclusions regarding the market place for forest-based agriculture and livestock products. The idea of developing a regional competitiveness plan for a sustainable agricultural strategy was formulated, as well as the desire to stimulate responsible intra-African markets and support private investment. The implementation of sustainable procurement policies for public purchases in administrations and the promotion of zero deforestation value chains by supporting companies committed to this approach were also highlighted.
In order to arrive at definitions for "forest", "deforestation" and "forest degradation", a roadmap was validated by the participants. Among others: