Private sector urged to take active part in forestry
African countries have been encouraged to build holistic and cohesive private forestry sectors in order to improve capacity for monitoring.
Two organisations - African Forest Forum and the Network for Natural Gums and Resins in Africa - hosted a three- day webinar on National responses to the Paris Agreement and promoting gums and resins in Africa for resilience to climate change. The aim of the webinar was to share results obtained by AFF during the last two years from its work on strengthening sustainable management of Africa’s forests and trees outside forests and the role they play in meeting global and national climate change mitigation goals.
Among the key findings, AFF Executive Secretary, Prof Godwin Kowero said macroeconomic reforms being implemented by African countries put the private sector and markets at the heart of development.
He highlighted that in the past many national governments were major investors in industrial round wood production, processing, and marketing but these responsibilities are now being transferred to the private sector. “However, the private forestry sector in many countries continues to be made up of many small, dispersed, and unorganised players, who lack financial and other resources for investment, and who do not form an entity that can express its opinions in any forum”. Kowero said it also does not appear in central government’s plans, as well as in the allocation of national resources and as a result, there has been a loss of momentum in building a holistic and cohesive private forestry sector on the continent, and this has hampered a smooth link between Roundwood production on the one hand and wood processing, marketing and trade on the other. “This has seriously undermined the growth of the forestry sector on the continent. Even with good intentions to build a private forestry sector, credit is increasingly available at rates of interest that make investments in primary forest production and, to some extent in wood processing, not attractive and profitable. “The private sector cannot accommodate the long- term investment and financing periods required for the successful implementation of forest management programmes”.
He pointed out that there are no incentives to the private sector to invest in natural forests designated for protective or conservation purposes, largely because the private sector is driven by a profit motive but African governments are also embracing new paradigms on both political and economic fronts that have seen a considerable increase in the participation of local communities in decision making.
“This has gradually been extended to managing natural forest resources with local communities becoming more empowered to undertake ownership and management functions of some natural forests from national central governments. “However, there is also lack of incentives for the local communities to continue to sustainably manage and use the natural forest resources”. More than 200 African stakeholders working on or with interest in climate change, forestry, and related issues attended the webinar.
In these webinars, participants were expected to learn from the results of studies conducted by the institution in 15 African countries including Botswana on policy and forest governance processes that hold the potential to cultivate better responses in the forestry sector to climate change opportunities and challenges on the continent. Some of the countries include Cameroon, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Eswatini, Ethiopia, Gambia, Kenya, Liberia, Mali, the Republic of the Congo, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda, and, Zambia. African Forests, People and Climate Change Senior Programme Officer, Marie Louise AvanaTientcheu indicated that AFF has worked hard to provide a bridge between sciencebased knowledge and strong policies that could support the sustainable management and wise use of these resources for the benefit of present and future generations. “It has strengthened the capacity of some public and private forest institutions for sustained development outcomes in the sector and delivered on related issues in the context of climate change”.