Forest experts seek to deepen knowledge on African forestry
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27 September 2016 Author :   Elias Ntungwe Ngalame
Participants at the forum

As stakeholder increasingly take steps to develop and implement forestry compatible development, there is increased need for a better understanding of forest related regional and international agreements experts say.

Various presenters at the opening of a regional workshop on “sharing knowledge and experiences to strengthen collaboration among stakeholders in African forestry” in Lome  Togo on September 26, 2016, agreed that a more in-depth understanding on forest intricacies was necessary to permit African countries draw maximum benefits from their huge spans of forest resources.

The African forest scientists say, is worth far more than just REDD+ financing for carbon sequestration and storage, thus the need for a more deeper knowledge and understanding of its potential.

“African countries need to strike the right balance to optimize benefits from their rich forest resources. The worth of the vast spans of rich African forest cannot be measured by just carbon sequestration and storage,” says Dr. Aster Gebrekirstos, a scientist at the World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF) at a presentation on knowledge gaps in climate change and its impact in Africa and the African Forest Forum in Lome, Togo.

Aster who leads the Dendrochronology Laboratory in ICRAF says to address the gaps on multipurpose trees, there is need to raise awareness on untapped opportunities that can better contribute to the local needs of forest communities in Africa.

Africa lacks long term climate data to better implement knowledge and science based investment to address forest conservation challenges.

 “Trees live for hundreds of years and store lots of information used as tools for climate data,” says Aster Gebrekirstos.

The need for information and knowledge on forestry issues therefore has become more that ever before imperative in Africa to better improve forest management in a manner that better address poverty eradication and environmental protection.

According to the AFF executive secretary, Godwin  Kowero, Africa’s contribution in international processes has not been effective due to insufficient capacity , attributed to  little understanding of the processes and this has resulted in poor ownership and low implementation of  both regional and international agreements.

And this where the African Forest Forum comes in handy “ to facilitate strengthening of  Africa’s participation in regional and international debates and negotiations and actions related to forestry and enhance informed country adoption and implementation of international and regional forest and related agreements, ” Godwin said.

The African Forest Forum has to that effect recently generated considerable information on various aspects of forestry that includes climate change, green economy, provision of quality tree germplasm, forest and tree pests and diseases, forest governance, forest certification and public-private partnership investment in the sector.

Experts say African economies are largely market oriented with the private sector having a big role to in poverty alleviation. According to AFF executive secretary, there is a critical need to encourage private sector investments in forest management in Africa.

“There is an urgent need to facilitate the development of an organized private sector in forestry for an all inclusive forest compatible sustainable livelihood development in Africa,” Godwin said.

The Forum brought over 70 participants, experts in forestry issues drawn from all the five regions in the African continent.

Among other topics participants are looking at key forest related issues like the balance between food-fuel-fibre production in the context of climate change in Africa, experience with REDD+, CDM, African Forest  Organisation and Land Use, AFOLU and voluntary market oriented activities in African countries, disaster management in Africa, forest sector potential for green economy, forest pests and disease management, the state and future forest certification and the potential and experiences with public-private partnership in African forestry.

The African Forest Forum accordingly is an association of individuals who share the pursuit and commitment to the sustainable management, use and conservation of the forest and tree resources of Africa for the betterment of the socio-economic wellbeing of its people and for the stability and improvement of its environment.

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