By Nkechi Isaac with agency reports
A non-governmental organisation, African Forests Forum [AFF], has urged African institutions to place a premium on private afforestation initiatives to restore the ecology.
Speaking during the opening ceremony of a 5-day regional workshop on knowledge and experience sharing by public and private sector in Accra, Ghana, the AFF executive secretary, Prof. Godwin Kowero, said Africa stood a chance of profiting from tree plantation if private forestry was well-developed and strengthened.
He said; “If the private sector is not strengthened or operating effectively, we would not make progress in the whole forestry sector.
“Ghana, for instance, has progressively declined in size and quality of her forest resources. Total carbon stock dropped off from 564 million tonnes in 1970 to 380.9 million tonnes in 2010. The story is no different in other parts of the continent as African countries face difficult choices to support rational and optimal use of dwindled resource.”
Promotion of sustainable livelihood through private-public partnership models and strengthening the industry capacity to address social inclusion and equity is key. It was one of the ways the Accra forum sought to address the issue.
Land tenure system was one major issue that came up for discussion as way of ensuring viability of the forestry by private sector. Zimbabwe, for instance, has policies which facilitate the development of a viable private forestry sector.
Kowero noted, however, that the Southern African country is affected by new unclear legislation particularly on land tenure and indigenization policy which stipulates a shared ownership of 51 percent for citizens and 49 percent for foreigners.
In his remarks, the country’s representative at the forum, Cuthbert A T Katsvanga, said the policy negatively affects foreign direct investment, adding global climate is changing which may also affect forests, food and livestock production, hence, the need for information to guide African countries.
“This requires promotion of integrated and cooperative management of trans-boundary forest resources and international trade in forest resources,” he added.
The regional event could be cost effective approach for building capacity in forest management to ensure improved adaptive capacity and foster strong institution linkage coordination among countries in Africa.
The workshop brought together over 50 participants from private and public forest sector, governments, non-government organizations, researchers, academia, media, youth and women based organizations from 28 countries in sub-Sahara Africa.