Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Kenya participates in 17th Session of the African Forests and Wildlife Commission in Brazzaville Congo- Report by Charles Ngunjiri

KFS Corporate Communications Officer, Mr. Charles Ngunjiri inside a 40 Ha pine plantation 65KM north of Brazziville, Congo during a field trip. The republic of Congo has 68% forest cover, and extremely fertile soils. During the trip, no farming activities be it crops or animals were witnessed.

Part of Kenya's delegation to the AFWC (from left) KWS' Senior Warden Mr. Julius Cheptei and Senior Research Scientist Dr. Charles Musyoki, and KFS' Deputy Director Forest Extension Service Ms. Monica Kalenda take a break between presentations in Brazzaville. Presentations were marred by frequent blackouts, some lasting upwards of 30 minutes. The Republic of Congo imports electricity from the neighboring Democratic Republic of Congo.

The 17th Session of the African Forests and Wildlife Commission has identified a better understanding of the underlying causes of deforestation and forest degradation, and the promotion of policies and approaches that promote sustainable forest management as central to any climate change initiative in the forest sector in Africa. In a brief produced at the end of the 17th session of the AFWC held in Brazzaville Republic of Congo, the Commission highlights include:

- forest reforms at national level with set targets to reduce deforestation and degradation with an aim to achieving minimum forest loss and carbon emissions

- there is urgent need to develop and implement strategies to reduce competition for land, improve crop productivity and livestock systems, as well as to exploit synergies and tradeoffs through agroforestry as similar technologies

- there is urgent need to strengthen forestry and wildlife institutions in Sub Saharan Africa including enabling them to put large areas of forest and wildlife under sustainable management

- there is insufficient, unreliable and consistently generated information by national forest and wildlife service institutions to support decision making and management of these resources. African countries will need assistance to build their capacity to assess forest and wildlife resources, both for their ability to maintain or increase human resilience to climate change, and to also assess resources that are specifically vulnerable to climate change

- there are many unknowns in adaptation to climate change that require urgent attention in both forest and wildlife sectors.

Some highlights on climate change forest resources:

- REDD in its various forms, must not be seen as a sector specific issue but must be integrated into overall national development planning while remaining consistent with overall global mitigation strategy. The scope of REDD is limited and needs to be expanded to cover all types of land use, including agriculture, agroforestry and other lands uses. To improve REDD initiatives, it is necessary to learn from the failings of CDM

- there is need for context specific policy and action to climate change with focus to creating new value-added for pro-poor investment.

- Forests should not only be viewed as carbon sinks, but also as important contributors to the socioeconomic lives of the African people, as well as providers of ecosystem services. Markets need to be developed particularly for water supply, carbon, biodiversity products based on secure property rights and a more equitable benefit sharing

- Any strategy to address climate change in Africa must also enhance the livelihoods of the people who depend on the forests and the rights of indigenous people through clarifying tree and land tenure and rights, and responsibilities

- Policy and approached that improve energy efficiency are critical due to the overwhelming dependence on forests for energy. Demand side interventions should focus on increasing the efficiency and suitability of harvesting, processing, as well as consumption of forest products for various purposes, notably for energy, food, feed and fibre

Kenya was represented in the Commission by KFS Deputy Director Ms. Monica Kalenda and Corporate Communications Officer Mr. Charles Ngunjiri, KWS’ Senior Warden Mr. Julius Cheptei and Senior Research Scientist Dr. Charles Musyoki, and KEFRI’s Principal Research Officer Mrs. Sheila Mbiru.

Kenya Forest Service got an opportunity to exhibit during the event, drawing much interest in its mandate, and diverse publicity materials. However, several participants raised concerns that French versions of KFS publicity items were nonexistent.

The Commission’s full report will be published soon and made available in this site.

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