Time is running out to protect Africa’s forests

Uninated Nations rainforest

© UNESCO – Detlef Overmann/CoFF, Afromontane – Yayu, en Éthiopie. Réserve naturelle.

This article is brought to you based on the strategic cooperation of The European Sting with the World Economic Forum.

Author: Abraham Baffoe, Africa Regional Director, ProForest

Africa’s tropical forests teem with biodiversity, support at least 100 million people and play a vital role in combating climate change. But they are under threat from agricultural commodity production. Urgent cooperation is needed to remove deforestation from commodity supply chains. Proforest’s Abraham Baffoe explains why.

In November 2016, seven African heads of state made a collective public commitment to sustainable palm oil development at the UN Climate Change Conference in Marrakesh.

The Marrakesh Declaration for the Sustainable Development of the Oil Palm Sector in Africa was developed under the umbrella of the Tropical Forest Alliance 2020 (TFA 2020) Africa Palm Oil Initiative. Ministers from countries representing nearly 70% of Africa’s tropical forests signed the landmark agreement. It was an important step in protecting these forests from the threat of unsustainable palm oil development.

Africa’s tropical forests encompass the Guinean Forests of West Africa and the vast rainforest of the Congo Basin. Half of the Guinean Forests’ plants and nearly a third of their animals are found nowhere else on the planet. The Congo Basin contains the world’s second largest contiguous tropical forest zone, after the Amazon. Covering more than 251 million hectares and stretching across six countries, the Congo Basin forest area has been called the world’s “second lung”. It represents a quarter of the total carbon stored in tropical forests globally, according to estimates.

Together, the forests of Africa store an amazing 171 gigatons of carbon. They also boast a rich biodiversity of more than 20,000 plant species, 2,000 birds, and 600 amphibians. They host 400 mammal species, including three of the world’s four great apes: bonobos, gorillas and chimpanzees.

Africa’s forests, and particularly the Congo Basin, are home to some of the world’s oldest indigenous peoples. These include the Bambuti, or Mbuti, of Congo; the Baka of Cameroon; and the Aka of the Central African Republic. While estimates of the numbers of forest-dwelling indigenous people in Central Africa vary from between 130,000 to 920,000, it is widely accepted that approximately 150 distinct ethnic groups call it home.

But Africa’s forests are under increasing pressure from agricultural production of goods such as rubber, cocoa and palm oil. Cocoa production is expanding in Africa at a rate of 132,000 hectares every year. Between 2000 and 2013, growth in African cocoa production accounted for 57% of global cocoa expansion.

Though palm oil originated in tropical West Africa, the region is now being called a ‘new frontier’ for the good. Global companies are increasingly looking to West Africa to feed the insatiable desire for the most popular vegetable oil on the planet.

In Africa, palm oil is used everywhere, from homes to factories. Most countries in West and Central Africa are net importers of the crop, despite it growing abundantly there. Investment in oil palm could both meet this domestic need and bring much needed economic growth to the region. But we need only look to the experience of Southeast Asia to see how intensive production of oil palm can lead to massive levels of deforestation.

The Africa Palm Oil Initiative (APOI) brings together stakeholders from government, the private sector and civil society to agree on national and regional principles governing sustainable palm oil. Through a collaborative process, stakeholders decide on the governance and stewardship of natural resources; zero net deforestation; biodiversity protection; equitable benefit sharing; land rights; local livelihoods and food security; smallholder inclusion; and promoting sustainability certification.

Of the ten palm oil-producing countries who joined the initiative, seven have developed national action plans to implement these principles. For these seven, the next challenge is securing the resources to take action. The national APOI teams are also seeking to identify synergies with other initiatives that are already working on other commodities in their jurisdictions, such as cocoa. This could help all the initiatives accelerate their impact.

In 2010, several private sector companies made bold commitments to remove deforestation from major commodity supply chains by 2020. This sent a clear message that forest conservation is critical to achieving global climate goals. But with fewer than 1,000 days left to meet these commitments, commodity-driven deforestation continues. The need for action is urgent. On May 15, TFA 2020 will host its annual General Assembly in Accra, Ghana. This will bring the global forest community together on a “Sprint to 2020”, to help eliminate commodity-driven deforestation.

One set of actors alone cannot achieve the change we desire. Government, the private sector and civil society must work together. There was celebration after the declaration in Marrakesh, but we must remember that this agreement is not the end goal. We need to focus now on delivering concrete action on the ground.For Africa’s forests, and for the people who depend on them, there is no time to lose.

The Tropical Forest Alliance 2020 (TFA 2020) Africa Palm Oil Initiative is coordinated by Proforest on behalf of TFA 2020 and with funding support from the UK Department for International Development through its Partnership for Forest Programme.

It is working with government, private sector and civil society stakeholders in 10 African palm-oil producing countries: Cameroon, the Central African Republic, Côte d’Ivoire, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Gabon, Ghana, Liberia, Nigeria, the Republic of Congo and Sierra Leone.

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

the European Sting Milestones

Featured Stings

Can we feed everyone without unleashing disaster? Read on

These campaigners want to give a quarter of the UK back to nature

How to build a more resilient and inclusive global system

Stopping antimicrobial resistance would cost just USD 2 per person a year

Security Council should ‘nurture’ Colombian consensus against return to violence, top UN official urges

Annexing Jordan Valley would end ‘illusion’ of a meaningful two-State solution: UN rights expert

Why transparency in drug pricing is more complicated than it seems

EU tells Britain stay in as long as you wish

What does a good digital ID look like?

UN report sheds light on ‘unimaginable horrors’ faced by migrants and refugees in Libya, and beyond

Food choices today, impact health of both ‘people and planet’ tomorrow

Food safety: Enhancing consumer trust in EU risk assessment and authorisation

A hot autumn after a cool summer for Europe

More taxpayers’ money for the banks

Altruism can be good for business, as these companies show

E-Governance: A powerful tool to combat, mitigate and sustainably manage disaster risks

Greenhouse gas levels in atmosphere break another record, UN report shows

The hidden downsides of autonomous vehicles – and how to avoid them

Big world banks to pay $ 4.95bn for cheating customers; Is it a punishment or a gentle caress?

Transparency and tech together can safeguard taxpayers’ money

Pervasive corruption costs $2.6 trillion; disproportionately affects ‘poor and vulnerable’ says UN chief

In Tanzania visit, UNHCR official stresses freedom of choice is crucial for refugee returns

New forms of work: deal on measures boosting workers’ rights

Chart of the day: Why marine protected sites matter more than ever

D-Day for Grexit is today and not Friday; Super Mario is likely to kill the Greek banks still today

Discussion at Europe House: Brexit & Food

Real EU unemployment rate at 10.2%+4.1%+4.7%: Eurostat Update

Ten years on, crisis in Nigeria ‘far from over’; UN and humanitarian partners urge support for millions still affected

Main results of European Council of 18/10/2018

Armenia should take vigorous measures against entrenched corruption

UN Children’s Fund chief condemns ‘horrific’ Kabul bomb attack

Parliament supports plans to improve quality of tap water and cut plastic litter

Electronic cigarette: a still controversial qualitative imbalance

Food safety: more transparency, better risk prevention

Will AI make the gender gap in the workplace harder to close?

Is ECB helping Germany to buy cheaply the rest of Europe?

Medical students: The need for emigration

Yemen: Security Council backs new mission in support of key port city truce

MWC 2016 LIVE: T-Mobile US reveals 5G trial plans

EU imposes provisional anti-dumping tariffs on Chinese solar panels

US-China trade war at point of no return: Washington’s demands go beyond tariffs

Recognize, celebrate and ‘stand in solidarity’ with persons with albinism

Mergers: Commission clears E.ON’s acquisition of Innogy, subject to conditions

These Indian fishermen take plastic out of the sea and use it to build roads

MEPs and European Youth Forum call on EU to Invest in Youth

European Youth Forum warns of a Peter Pan generation as a result of financial crisis and response to it

UN chief condemns attack targeting international forces in northern Mali

The link between migration and technology is not what you think

No barriers to free flow of non-personal data in the EU

Eurozone: Statistics don’t tell the whole story

‘€1 million’ fines for rescue boats prompts UN concern for future sea operations

Emergency meeting called as Ebola spreads to Congolese city – UN health agency

How tech companies compare at protecting your digital rights

ILO discusses world of work response to global refugee crisis

“BRI cooperation is entering a new stage: we need a new and more constructive approach rather than waste time on suspicion”, China’s Ambassador to EU Zhang Ming underlines live from European Business Summit 2019 in Brussels

This city is planting a tree for every man, woman and child

Report on EU trade defence – effective protection against unfair trade

Towards a tobacco free India

What data dominance really means, and how countries can compete

EU elections: Can EU citizens’ awareness eradicate fake news more efficiently than Facebook, Twitter and Google?

The von der Leyen Commission: for a Union that strives for more

‘Moral obligation and political imperative’ to support Syria on path to peace: Guterres

World Retail Congress Dubai 2016: Retail’s night of nights

Syria war: executions condemned as violence continues ‘on both sides’ of border with Turkey

More Stings?

Speak your Mind Here

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s