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Succesful Conference: Forests for the Future - New Forests for Africa
Reforestation of degraded lands in Africa
Form international is one of the initiators of the movement 'Forests for the Future, New Forests for Africa', which completed its first conference on African soil in the Ghanaian capital Accra on March 16 and 17, 2016. 150 participants were gathered to discuss, share and agree on steps to translate the Paris COP21 commitments on greening the African landscape (the AFR100 initiative) into concrete actions. It was concluded that there is a tendency among international organizations involved in sustainable development, climate change, reforestation and natural resources management to rely on governments alone. As witnessed by former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, keynote contributor to this conference, this opinion is changing: ”I notice that they are now more open to private sector involvement. This will make the difference.”
More and more, the private sector is the major force that will make large-scale reforestation possible. Very necessary, since “the task of greening 100 million hectares of (degraded) land in Africa by 2030 is a task of mammoth proportion,” said Ghana Minister for the Environment Nii Osah Mills during his speech when addressing the audience.
Over 40 speakers from all stakeholder groups and many African and western countries addressed the participants on the importance of reforestation and restoring degraded landscape. They shared the vision on the need for beautiful forests and the impact forests have on the livelihoods of people, biodiversity and climate mitigation. It was impressive to see that private sector companies – plantation and financial sector – as well as governments and NGOs have this overall vision as their guiding principle for reforestation. Instead of narrowing their contributions to their own stakeholder needs, organizations opened up by reaching out to each other, by requesting help and by working together. They all expressed this commitment by publicly signing up ready to offer help to each other in paving the way for a better enabling environment for commercial forest landscape restoration, like access to finance and liberal sharing of R&D and information.
A number of participants took part in the field trip to Form Ghana’s Akumadan forest concession in Asubima Forest Reserve on the 18th, where they could learn firsthand about the potential of the sector (first 3000 m3 of FSC certified Teak timber sold!), but also about the hazards that reforestation companies encounter on a daily basis (bushfires, illegal logging, agricultural encroachment, etc.). All in all, the field trip provided an excellent opportunity to get a whiff of the reality of managing a commercial reforestation site and deepen the discussions on topics while wondering through nurseries, young plantation, logging sites and biodiversity right bufferzones.
More information on the New Forests for Africa movement, conference minutes, and upcoming events can be found at the website: