The ten Central African countries that constitute the Central African Forest Commission (COMIFAC) held a meeting in Bujumbura in order to elaborate the action plan for 2015-2016.-By Diane Uwimana
Participants from Angola, Burundi, Cameroon, the Central African Republic, Congo, Gabon, Equatorial Guinea, DRC, Sao Tome & Principe and Chad, all members of COMIFAC, hold an ordinary meeting in Bujumbura from 14th to 16th January 2015.
The COMIFAC is an intergovernmental organisation in Central Africa. Its goal is to manage the forests of Central Africa in a sustainable manner, and is supported by the wildlife trade monitoring network TRAFFIC. The organisation, which is based in Yaoundé, Cameroon, was established in March 1999, through the “Declaration of Yaoundé”. In February 2005, the organization adopted a convergence plan for improved management and conservation of forests in Central Africa.
“Passing the baton on to the next country to lead the COMIFAC and elaborating the action plan are the major activities during the meeting”, says Felix Ngendabanyikwa, the National Coordinator of COMIFAC, from the Ministry of Water, Environment, Land and Urbanism planning.
It is Burundi’s turn to lead the organization during the coming two years, according to the alphabetic order and COMIFAC rules.
Burundi will have many opportunities to benefit from its leadership of the organization. According to Ngendabanyikwa, Burundi will represent and defend all countries regarding the major issues, whilst not forgetting the national activities.
“There are some national projects which are ongoing, such as the Burundi non-timber forest project and supervision of forests which ended in 2014 within the first phase, but where the second phase will be approved by the council of Ministers during the meeting, “adds Ngendabanyikwa.
In September 2014, all members of COMIFAC met in Kinshasa and created the Green Economy Fund, which will support the reviewed convergence plan of COMIFAC. “Each country can contribute towards its own plans. The Green Economy Fund will also support the projects planned in each country. Burundi works on the wetland project, which is concerned with stagnant waters. The Ministry of Environment will identify and delineate the areas that need to be protected,” notes the national coordinator of COMIFAC in Burundi.
The deadline is set to the end of 2015 for all countries in the Green Economy Fund.
According to Mohamed Feruzi, the Director of National Institute and Natural Resources, Burundi has protected 5,6% i.e. 157,923 ha, of its national territory and reserved 133,700 ha for reforestation. “There are some challenges that constrain us from making progress and achieving the worldwide target of 17%. Such challenges include cultivation in the parks and protected areas, mining, hunting, bush fires and the search for honey”, says Feruzi.
The same view is shared by the National coordinator of COMIFAC. “Bush fires and excessive use of wood threatens our forests’, says Ngendabanyikwa.
Some mechanisms have been put in place to protect the environment, such as the national policy to protect forests which was adopted two years ago, and the environment code which is now revised by MPs, and the creation of the national fund for protection and supervision of forests all the way from the government and through to the local administration.