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Africa’s climate resilient future hinges on improved forest governance: Experts

NAIROBI, (The Southern African Times) – Sustainable management of Africa’s vast forest resources has the potential to secure a climate resilient future for local communities reeling from negative impacts of global warming, experts said on Monday.

The experts who spoke at a virtual forum convened by Nairobi-based African Forest Forum (AFF) said the continent should leverage its tropical and dryland forest cover to promote climate mitigation and adaptation.

Godwin Kowero, executive secretary of African Forest Forum, said that besides acting as carbon sinks, the continent’s forested landscapes if sustainably utilized are key to eradicating rural poverty, food insecurity and water stress.

“Sustainable management, use and conservation of Africa’s forest and tree resources should underpin efforts to reduce poverty, promote gender equality, economic and social development and protect the environment,” said Kowero.

More than 100 participants including policy makers, scientists and conservationists are participating in the webinar on contribution of forests and dryland resources in building climate resilient communities in Africa taking place from Sept. 6 to 8.

Participants drawn from English speaking African nations are expected to share knowledge, expertise, best practices and experiences that can be harnessed to boost the contribution of forests towards the continent’s green agenda.

In addition, delegates who are participating in the three-day webinar will discuss findings of a study conducted in a dozen African countries to explore policy and forest governance processes and their impact on climate response.

Kowero said that evaluating how African countries had integrated their forestry policies with multilateral climate agreements was key to promote sustainable management of vital ecosystems.

He added that sustaining the health of African forests while ensuring they serve as carbon sinks was dependent on policy reforms and adequate financing towards their conservation.

Raphael Tihelwa Chibunda, vice-chancellor, Sokoine University of Agriculture based in Tanzania noted that sustainable utilization of tropical forests has gained traction in Africa amid quest for green, inclusive growth.

He said the continent should invest in capacity development, training, appropriate technologies in order to boost conservation of forests, secure livelihoods for local communities and minimize impacts of climatic shocks.

Cliff Sibusiso Dlamini, executive director of Center for Coordination of Agricultural Research and Development for Southern Africa said that improved forest governance in Africa will unleash multiple health, economic and social benefits for local communities.

Dlamini urged harmonization of policies and legislation to ensure that forestry related climate adaptation and mitigation programs create impact across different economic sectors.

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