Central African environment ministers renew will to protect Congo Basin forests | WWF

Central African environment ministers renew will to protect Congo Basin forests

Posted on 01 June 2004
Forest canopy in the Congo Basin rainforest, Central African Republic.
© WWF / Martin HARVEY
Yaoundé, Cameroon - WWF welcomes a reiteration by the Council of Ministers in charge of Forests in Central Africa (COMIFAC) of its commitment to play a more active role in the sustainable management of the forest ecosystems in the region. The highly attended extraordinary meeting of the ministers in Yaoundé, Cameroon, from 26–29 May witnessed a cautious adoption of a consolidated strategic action plan (plan de convergence) and a sweeping resolution to shake-up the entire COMIFAC secretariat. 

COMIFAC is the central political and technical policy- and decision-making body for implementation of the 1999 Yaoundé Declaration, in which six regional heads of state (Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, and the Republic of Congo)  came together for the conservation and sustainable management of forests in the Congo Basin. The World Bank/WWF Forest Alliance and WWF assisted in the convening of the Yaoundé Summit, and have been active supporters of the COMIFAC process.  

The Congo Basin forests are the world's second largest rainforest and home to incredible biodiversity. However, the forests face increasingly severe threats from commercial logging and mining, as well as large-scale commercial hunting for wild meat and ivory, which often uses logging concession access roads. 

The extraordinary COMIFAC meeting brought together environment ministers from Cameroon, Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of Congo, Gabon (represented by ambassador to Cameroon), Chad, Equatorial Guinea, and Republic of Congo. Backed by technical experts from the member countries as well as various partners and international and sub-regional organizations, the ministers signed the highly awaited strategic action plan on condition that a few remaining discrepancies are ironed out within the next 10 days.
To get things going with implementation of the strategic action plan, the ministers exhorted the COMIFAC secretariat to finalise the COMIFAC treaty and submit it to the different Heads of State. Other expected documents include analysis of financing mechanism for the strategic action plan and a code of conduct for the management of the plan de convergence.

In addition, member states still to ratify the accord for the for
the Conservation of Wild Fauna in Central Africa (OCFSA) were exhorted to do so as quickly as possible. All states were also encouraged to adhere to the Lusaka accord on concerted action on illegal trade in wildlife.
For functional reasons, the extraordinary meeting resolved to replace the present executive secretariat of COMIFAC and to put in place an ad hoc committee to run the affairs for a period of one month under the leadership of Cameroon’s minister of environment.
Ahead of the COMIFAC meeting, the 5th edition of the Conference on Central African Moist Forest Ecosystems (CEFDHAC) took place in Yaoundé under the theme “Governance and multi-actor partnership for the sustainable management of Central African Forest Ecosystems”.  Attended by over ten countries from the sub-region, including Burundi and Rwanda, the conference addressed key issues such as good governance, partnership, community forests, training, and research on conservation. The next session of CEFDHAC has been slated for Gabon in 2006.

For further information:
Peter Ngea
Communications Officer, WWF Central Africa Regional Programme
Tel: +237 2217083
E-mail: pngea@wwfcarpo.org
Forest canopy in the Congo Basin rainforest, Central African Republic.
© WWF / Martin HARVEY Enlarge