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Forest management: the Central African Republic’s commitment pays off

Over the past five years, the Central African Republic has embarked upon managing 90% of its forestry concessions. This is the result of an original incentive scheme involving the authorities and logging firms, headed by CIRAD.

In Gabon, Cameroon and the Republic of Congo, industrialists are obliged by law to fund management schemes for their forestry concessions. In the Central African Republic, it is up to the State to draw up such schemes, which are then implemented by private firms. CIRAD has been supporting this approach since 2000. It supervises PARPAF (a project to support the implementation of forest management schemes), in partnership with the Forest Resources Management organization. PARPAF is a mixed, public and private, project jointly funded by the State, the Agence française de développement and private firms.

90% of concessions due to be managed

These efforts have already borne fruit: in the space of five years, the Central African Republic has gone from a single managed forestry concession - 5% of its total forest - to a committment to manage 90% of concessions under its management approach. The project is the result of an undertaking on the part of Central African Heads of State, made in Yaounde in 1999 and reiterated at the 2005 Brazzaville summit, to support the conservation and sustainable use of forest resources for the good of their populations.

The drafting of each scheme, following the signature of a provisional agreement with the State, begins with an inventory of woody species (more than 300 of them) throughout the concession, using a strict statistical methodology. The "ecological potential" of the concession is then assessed in terms of the volume that can be logged sustainably. Biodiversity is also inventoried, and the study is rounded up with socioeconomic studies. The conclusions are then compared with the logging firm’s plans. The final scheme is then drafted and mapped, establishing logging zones and rules. The final logging contract is then signed by the State and the firms involved. The firms are eventually required to fund around 30% of the total cost of their scheme.

An independent national unit devoted to management

PARPAF takes charge of technical support, draws up national standards and monitors and controls technical operations. It organizes training and the activities of a national management unit, which is gradually becoming independent in terms of funding and human resources. The logging firm funds the staff and logistics required for the inventory, along with a forester and the equipment he or she requires.

After an initial phase, from 2000 to 2004, the project was extended until 2006. It has meant that it is now possible to assign workers who have trained in the field and are entirely familiar with management schemes. This way of building a national forest management unit is a novelty in Central Africa, and guarantees the efficacy of the next phase, viz. the long-term monitoring of the implementation of forestry management schemes, which are drawn up to run for 30 years. This phase will also be funded jointly.

Alain Billand | alfa
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