Sustainable Development

NAIROBI, Kenya (PAMACC News) - Equipping local communities in particular women with right resources to manage forests in Africa could help ease poverty and reduce deforestation – Environment experts have observed.

Drawing examples from Brazil and Nepal where thousands of community-led forest initiatives have significantly slowed down deforestation, the experts say such success cases could easily be replicated in Africa to drive efforts towards sustainable forest management.

A case study from Nepal presented at a workshop organised by the Africa Forest Forum in Nairobi shows that supporting communities  to take care of their own forests led to a 37 percent drop in deforestation and a 4.3 percent decline in poverty levels between 2000 and 2012.

“Forest experts say this should be the way forward for Africa,” said Dr Julius Chuezi Tieguhong, a forest research scientist. “Giving local communities in Africa the chance to look after their own forests will permit them intensify measures against illegal logging and other abuses because they know the forest is their future,” he said.

He observed that community forest management can help achieved a clear win-win for local people, protect the environment and fight against poverty.
Another expert, Cecile Ndjebet of the African Women's Network for Community Management of Forest, abbreviated in French (REFACOF) emphasized on the need to drive sustainable forest management by providing local women with alternative income generating activities that keeps them away from destroying their forests, which is a lifeline to their future.

She cited the case of Cameroon where a government supported agriculture programme for local farmers has enabled forest community women to engage in processing, packaging and marketing of non-timber Forest Products for income generation.

The programme called AGROPOLE accordingly, tackles food security, forest conservation and climate change, as well as the connection between agriculture, forestry and local economies.

She says the success of the programme has kept the women off their former trade of burning charcoal to raise income.

“When women and local communities are empowered to secure their rights to land and provided environment friendly income generating activities, they can conserve resources and prevent environmental degradation,” Cecile Ndjebet said.

Experts expressed concerns that the neglecting of local communities in forest management systems could only aggravate deforestation globally.
Deforestation is the second leading cause of climate change after fossil fuels, accounting for almost a fifth of planet-warming emissions, according to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization.

Cutting down forests can also harm livelihoods and cause tensions, as people compete for fewer resources, noted the UN report.

According to a 2018 analysis by the Rights and Resources Initiative, a global land rights coalition, indigenous peoples and local communities legally own only about 15 percent of forests land worldwide, a situation that relegates them to the background in sustainable forest management efforts.

Environment experts say African leaders and policy makers have to grasp the scale of the challenge to get local communities involved in forest management at all levels to better address poverty eradication and environmental protection in the continent.

According to AFF, a stronger response by governments, public organization and the private sector is needed to drive sustainable forest management to permit Africa fight against poverty and help preserve forest depletion that is surging across the globe.

The world lost 12 million hectares (30 million acres) of tropical tree cover in 2018 - the equivalent of 30 football pitches a minute, said an April report by Global Forest Watch, run by the U.S.-based World Resources Institute.


NAIROBI, Kenya (PAMACC News) - The African continent is surrounded by vast natural wealth in its dense tropical forest yet its people are desperately poor, environment experts say.

The scientists have decried the absurdity of being so close to natural wealth, but so far from its benefits, a situation that can be changed for the better if forest resources are sustainably managed.

At a regional training workshop at Safari Club, Nairobi-Kenya May 20th, 2019 under the theme; ‘sustainable forest management and leadership for policy makers in Africa’ participants highlighted the need for the continent to find a lasting solution to poverty, concluding that ‘if sustainably managed, forests can drive Africa’s wealth so near’.

“If Africa is to be lifted from its plight, the forest sector must play a central role,” said Derek Berliner, Forest Ecology and Conservation expert, South Africa.

Environment and forest experts at the workshop were unanimous that for changes to occur, poor governance issues that have plagued the forest sector for generations must end, along with the flow of illegal timber that still saturates European and Asian markets.

African leaders and policy makers have to be empowered with skills to grasp the scale of the challenge, to improve forest management as pathway to better address poverty and environmental protection in Africa.

It is against this backdrop that this capacity building workshop was organized, targeting policy leaders, institutions, individual including farmers and farmer organizations.

The trained forest actors are expected to design and implement forestry strategies and policies that will make a difference in sustainable forest management in Africa while responding to new and emerging issues.

“Policy makers from institutions need to be equipped with extra set of leadership skills to improve the performance of the forest sector and help the continent realize its full economic and social potential while responding to a number of global environmental issues that have emerged and having a significant bearing on Forestry in Africa,” reads part of a document by the African Forest Forum (AFF).

It notes that the global community is now turning attention towards green growth pathways with focus particularly on forestry. AFF officials say this goal can best be achieved if the different stakeholders are better equipped with the knowledge to play their role.

“Building capacities will permit policy makers to continually adjust to the ever-changing environment that affects forests,'' said Prof Godwin Kowero, the AFF Executive Secretary.

According to AFF, a stronger response by governments, nongovernmental organization and the private sector is needed in the drive for sustainable forest management to allow Africa make the best out of its rich forest resources.

Africa’s current forest cover of 624 million hectares (23% of land area) represents natural capital that supports rural livelihoods, national economies, and has considerable potential in the global economy, according to AFF.
The African forest ecosystems are also characterized by high biodiversity and endemic species as well as non-timber forest products with an appreciable annual value of trade. At least 21% of the total global carbon stock is held in forests.

Experts say they are hopeful Africa can reap far better from its rich forest resources if the different stakeholders work in synergy for the interest of everyone.

“Africa can do better if we work hand in glove. Policy makers, civil society, private sector and other actors should know that sustainable forest management is the way to go,” says Cecile Ndjebet of the African Women's Network for Community Management of Forest, abbreviated in French (REFACOF).

DODOMA, Tanzania (PAMACC News) - The Tanzanian government, its fishermen and farmers have benefited from three Weather and Climate Information Services (WISER) projects.

The three projects are  national WISER, Highway and Multi-Hazard Early Warning System (MHEWS) project respectively, all sponsored by UKAid and UKMet Office (UKMO).

The projects which began in 2016, have remarkably changed the quality, accessibility and use of weather and climate information services at all levels of decision making for sustainable development in Tanzania.

The Three projects offered a unique package that culminated for weather and climate services information consumption to end users and enhancement of the Tanzania Meteorological Agency (TMA) capacity to provide weather and climate information.

They included a robust dissemination framework of such services for effective decision making to deal with natural hazards impacts and other socio-economic issues.

The National-WISER project (ongoing) executed by TMA, within the central-zone regions (Dodoma, Singida) and northeast regions, has a clear-cut goal of enhancing weather and information climate services to all information buyers, more importantly changing the way how TMA and other end users interact with the information provided and how its utilization can shape better decision making and combating poverty.

Highway project (ongoing)focused on the ability to research on weather issues, behind the evolution of extreme weather events occurring within the Lake Victoria basin.

The project focused on how communities and TMA can combat extreme weather events by having a robust early warning system and to reduce the loss of life attributed by strong winds and flooding.

The MHEWS which was implemented from February to December 2016,focused on improving and enhancing early warning systems.

The project focused on setting up the realistic operation procedures within the respective ministries and other entities to have a common understanding on how to set a useful format for weather information related to warning systems.

Dr Ladislaus Chang’a, Principal Meteorologist and Director of Research and Applied Meteorology from TMA, said the National-Wiser project is an important project to the country.

“It contributes towards enhancing provision, dissemination and application of climate services,” he said.
Chang’a emphasized the need for availability of information, enhancing access to information and application of information.

“WISER came in with the purpose of enhancing climate services to the providers of information but also to enhance the capacity of users so that they may effectively utilize the information disseminated,”Chang’a said.

On the Highway project, Chang’ a said the project aims to reduce the impact triggered by extreme weather events and improve the resilience of communities within the Lake Victoria basin.

“Through this project, we have improved communication capacity and use of the early warning systems products with relevant, technicians, forecasters, intermediaries and users,” Chang’a said.

He said MHEWShasput together some tools to improve the standard operations procedures, put in place warning systems, resulting in impact based focus, rather than business as usual scenarios and built capacity of providers and other users such as government ministries.

Experious Emmanuel, an agriculture expert from Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries (MALF), said the project has been extremely benficial.
“I benefited first as a food security expert, and helped the ministry acquire a standard warning system that helps us in mitigating hazards and improve food production and security,” Emmanuel said.

He added that the improved quality of weather and climate information from TMA has enabled agriculture experts to understand clearly weather patterns such as low rainfall seasons.

He said MHEWS project has also helped local farmers understand causes of natural hazards occurring in their areas.

“Weather and climate issues are very dynamic, getting clear information is likely to tackle a dozen issues of which can help both us (MALF) and the farmers in the rural areas,” he said.

Musa Habili, a Regional Officer In Charge of Tanzania Shipping Agencies Corporationsaid the MHEWS project had vital impacts to the community.
“It improved the communities’ socio-economic activities and helped them understand hazards and take precautions to reduce losses caused by extreme weather,”Habili said.

He said his skills and knowledge on dealing with maritime affairs were improved in dealing with maritime safety procedures.

“Ports, ships and small vessels operators have benefitted from this project and are able to know in advance about any weather hazards that are harmful to their vessels and take remedial measures,” Habili said.

Omar Ali Mohammed, Communications and Early Warning Officer for Zanzibar Disaster Management Department said early warning systems to Zanzibar are very crucial.

“Disaster management is very challenging to the Zanzibarisland. Knowing the nature and dynamics of disastersallows for immediate action and mitigation measures, to avert losses associated with them,” Mohammed said.

He said in disaster management, prevention, mitigation and preparedness are key and therefore if people know when a disaster will strike, they will be well prepared to deal with the consequences.

“Here in Zanzibar, we have press releases whenever TMA relays weather information, we then disseminate it to all wards and districts. We are now able to go an extra mile and tell local communities in their local languages when an event is to happen and how they can deal with it,” Mohammed said.

He said in the past whenever it rained in Zanzibar, it flooded all over but and people had to be rushed to camps for safety.

“But today, we have no people in flooding camps when it rains, a good sign that our people now know how to prepare themselves, for example,move to higher grounds to save lives,” Mohammed said.

Khowe Abraham Malegeri, an expert in Disaster Management Department in the Prime Minister KassimMajaliwa’s Office, said the projects have changed the way government deals with weather and climate matters.

“There are almost 34 weather stations in valleys or basins within communities in Liwale-Mtwara, Bahi-Dodoma and Arumeru-Arusha regions. These empower communities to know what is happening and relay early warnings messages to to avert disaster,” Malegeri said.

Gilbert Meleck, 26 years old, small scale farmer from Kiushini-Ngaramtoni, Oltrumeti Ward, Arumeru District, Arusha region said weather and climate related information has helped small scale farmers who rely on rain-fed farming.

“We are now able to know what crop to grow by knowing various patterns of rainfall and potential disasters. It is important for us, we are grateful for this service in our district,”Meleck said.

LucyShamale, 27 years old, another small scale farmer, from Arumeru District, Oltrumeti Ward, Arusha region said early warning services have helped her so much.

“This year as the rainfall pattern changed, I was informed, thanks to this project on how to farm based on the available weather and climate information. This has helped becausein the yesteryears, we could blindly plant only for the crops to wither and die,”Shamale said.


YAOUNDE, Cameroon (PAMACC News) - The Africa Forest Forum is set to launch eight training compendiums on various aspects of climate change in forestry to expand knowledge on the subject as it marks ten years of existence on May 22, 2019, in Nairobi, Kenya.

Since its establishment, the forum (AFF) has provided a bridge between science-based knowledge and good policies to support sustainable forest management, effectively working within a science-policy-management framework.
“We started this journey on December 06, 2007 when AFF was registered as a not-for-profit NGO in Nairobi Kenya, and with a grant from the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency in 2008, which helped us, among other things, to set up a platform that could support African forestry stakeholders to discuss and mobilize resources for improved management and use of their forest and tree resources,” said Prof Godwin Kowero, Executive Secretary-CEO at AFF.

Since then, awareness has grown on the role of forests and trees in national economic development, livelihoods and environmental stability, with AFF  steadily gaining membership and capacity to work on these and other related issues.

As one of the lead organization in the continent to promote sustainable forest management, the organization says it has delivered internationally renowned research in sustainable forestry and helped various member countries make their forest more productive, better for wildlife, and prepared for the challenges of a changing climate.

The institution says it has worked along with its partners, on several key fronts over the past ten years. Some of its successes include “promoting shifts in perceptions, priorities, values, capacities and skills to bear on subsequent impact on forestry and related decisions and practices. The interventions leading to this have included convening on specific issues, advocacy, partnerships and collaborative activities, knowledge brokerage, facilitating capacity and skills development, research and development activities.”

The goal accordingly has been to initiate a process through which local communities are seen and treated as critical stakeholders (participants and beneficiaries), while strategies for harnessing the potential of forest and tree resources to support livelihoods today, some of which employ these interventions, are given as much attention as the sustainable management and wise use of these resources for the benefit of future generations.

Statistics from AFF shows that Africa’s forest currently cover of 624 million hectares (23% of land area) representing natural capital that supports rural livelihoods, national economies, and has considerable potential in the global economy. The African forest ecosystems are also characterized by high biodiversity with rich endemic species.

It also shows that the annual value of trade in non-timber forest products is largely unknown since these products are traded informally; however, some estimates put it at over USD 500 million. Africa’s forests contribute 21% of total global carbon stock held in forests.
African forests support most rural livelihoods in the continent by providing income generating and employment opportunities.

 “In many cases these forests support up to more than a third of the household incomes,” AFF says.
The forests in Africa are also important in regulating supplies of water since many river head waters are found in them. On steep slopes, river banks and even on flat terrain, they protect the soil from erosion. They are important sources of fodder for large populations of livestock and wildlife; in fact, most wildlife game parks and wild animal reserves in Africa are found in the forests and woodlands. They also provide the bulk of energy in the countries in which they are occur, in the form of fuelwood for domestic and rural industry uses, according to AFF.

The African continent according to CIFOR contains about 30 percent of the world’s global rainforests, second only to the Amazon. Scientists and conservationists have in the last decade benn multiplying discussions on the changes the forests are expected to undergo in the 21st Century.

Africa’s tropical forests face challenges from deforestation, hunting, logging and mining, as well as climate change.

“Climate change is a major issue for much of the world, but for Africa, in particular. And there’s much interest and concern around Africa’s forests, which is the second largest area of tropical forest in the world after the Amazon forest. And yet there’s been very little synthesis of the research that’s there. There’s much less known about both climate and forest and people and their interaction in Africa compared to many other regions of the world,” says professor
Yadvinder Malhi director of Oxford’s Center for Tropical Forests.

There’s been extensive deforestation in West and Central Africa with much of the land cleared for agriculture over the last 20 to 30 years, scientists say.

They are therefore raising their voices for the continuous protection of the remaining rainforests, better land management for agriculture and new research into the effects of climate change.
The African Forest Forum says it is effectively playing this role working with many stakeholders on these and other forestry related issues.

During the Nairobi event, the AFF will release a book titled, “The State of Forestry in Africa: Opportunities and Challenges will take place in Nairobi Kenya.

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