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Wildlife and forestry sector in the spotlight

On August 22, the 23rd session of the African Forestry and Wildlife Commission, hosted by the Government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo opened in Kinshasa, putting the future of Africa’s forestry sector in the spotlight 

The session opened with a call from the Minister of Environment and Sustainable Development of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Eve Bazaiba, for qualitative change for Africa’s forests and wildlife. “This meeting will help us to establish and share practical recommendations for clear and qualitative change for the management of our forests and wildlife in Africa,” she said. Participants from 53 countries would be taking part in the session, either physically in Kinshasa or joining online.

Africa’s forests offer an enormous opportunity not only for prosperity, but also serve as a tool to help fight climate change and hunger, and build the continent’s resilience against future crises. Unfortunately, along with economic demand comes deforestation and other unsustainable practices, thereby putting these forests under enormous pressure. “The commission is an important opportunity for all countries to have their say on forestry and wildlife issues, so that we can present clear and unified recommendations to policy makers,” said Edward Kilawe, acting secretary of the commission. Over the course of five days, technical experts, policy advisors, government decision-makers, academics, civil society and development partners would be discussing opportunities and challenges faced by Africa’s forests and wildlife. The primary theme underpinning these discussions would be the role of forests and wildlife in strengthening resilience and recovery following crises and threats.

Session topics would include forestry and wildlife in COVID-19 recovery programmes in Africa; turning the tide against deforestation in Africa; the African Forest Landscape Restoration Initiative (AFR100); sustainable wildlife management in Africa; and sustainable wood and non-wood forest products towards carbon neutral and resilient bio-economies. Recommendations from the commission would be shared back to the governments through their participating delegations and they would further be informed regarding discussions at the global level within FAO.