The AFRICAN land mass is the world’s second largest continent… and the only one to stretch from the northern temperate zone to the southern temperate zone.
As a bountiful source of food, shelter, medicine and fuel, as a central player in climate change issues, and as a place of aesthetic inspiration and spiritual renewal, the FOREST is an important and valuable resource. The people who have an interest in African forests and trees range from farmers and loggers to research scientists, national governments and international policy makers. They need a continent-wide, internationally prominent FORUM to advocate for science-based forest and tree management for sustainable livelihoods and environmental stability.
In only a few years, the African Forest Forum has become a leading institution that unites all stakeholders in African forestry.
Our long term impacts are built on our broad and growing membership in Africa and abroad, our numerous African and international partners, and our increasing presence in regional and global discussions of forest and tree related issues. These all attest to the value of working together to promote sustainable forest and tree management, for the benefit of mankind and nature.
Our accomplishments address our general themes: forest ecosystem services, sustainable forest management, forest policy formulation and implementation, marketing and trade in forest products and services, capacity building and skills development, and communication. Awareness on the continent of these themes has been enhanced, and we have organised experts to initiate work on these issues. African stakeholders and the international community appreciate our achievements on these issues and our contributions to related regional and global efforts. This is in addition to many important publications, the organisation of and participation in numerous workshops and meetings at regional and national levels, and advances in professional training and development. We also have achievements related to the successful establishment of AFF and our growing influence. More specifically, AFF’s accomplishments involve:
- Advocacy, and rallying stakeholders around key themes
- Networking and collaboration among stakeholders
- Capacity building of stakeholders through the collaboration of experts, and specific training
- Reaching stakeholders with relevant information
- Synthesising existing work and drawing conclusions
Although AFF has only been in operation for a few years, it already has a substantial influence on forestry dialogue at various levels due to the successful and timely completion of its many activities.
Impact: Stakeholders and the international community are more aware of the importance of improved and sustainable management of African forest and tree resources, based on the establishment of an AFF website, listserve, and newsletters, working papers and policy briefs, all of which are successful in distributing information on current forestry issues, news and events. Our publications also include reports on the state of forest plantations and woodlots in Burundi, Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda, Ethiopia, Kenya, and Sudan, as well as working papers that reviewed the state of national forestry associations in Eastern Africa, Southern Africa, and West Africa. AFF’s participation in the initial activities of the Great Green Wall of Sahara and Sahel Initiative (GGWSSI) is also a highly visible contribution that highlights the importance of forests and trees.
Impact: Stakeholders and the international community are more aware of the importance of forest ecosystem services, and of AFF’s role in addressing climate change challenges and opportunities that are relevant to African forests and trees. AFF’s influential climate change think tank has guided its activities. For example, SciDev solicited AFF to write a position paper on climate change in African forestry; this was subsequently widely shared and translated. AFF members were also prominently involved in writing and editing the book “Climate Change and African Forest and Wildlife Resources”, the first of its kind in Africa. Furthermore, AFF continues to participate in the UNFCCC Working Group on Afforestation and Reforestation that reports to the Board of the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM). In this way, AFF contributes to decisions on how CDM handles afforestation and reforestation issues, which are of paramount importance to Africa in rehabilitating degraded forests and lands. AFF is the only African representation in this working group.
Impact: Stakeholders and the international community are more aware of the importance of good forest governance and law enforcement, based on our activities in Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade (FLEGT), which is being implemented in many countries in East Africa, the Sahel, and SADC countries. For example, there is already a SADC Working Group on FLEGT to work on law enforcement and good forest governance, and a SADC Timber Association to work on marketing and trade in forest products.
Impact: African delegates are more technically knowledgeable, and more able to develop a common approach and speak with one voice to represent African interests and concerns in international forestry negotiations, especially those organised by UNFF. The Technical Support Team (TST) of AFF has been active in providing African delegates with technical and logistical support to these negotiations. In addition, TST facilitates advance preparatory meetings to help delegates with the preparation of negotiation strategies and with the formation of common positions on agenda items. Through these activities, AFF has increased its collaboration with many African countries. AFF has also participated in special sessions of the African Ministerial Conference on the Environment (AMCEN) that shape the African common position in climate change discourses.
Impact: Key regional and global actors consider AFF an active partner. This can be seen by the fact that AFF is accredited to sessions of UNFF and UNFCCC and works closely with AMCEN. AFF also participates in some specialised committees and expert panels established by these organisations. AFF, FAO and IUFRO continue to work together on a number of issues. In Africa, Regional Economic Communities (RECs) such as SADC, ECOWAS and EAC, and regional and sub-regional institutions like the FAO Regional Office for Africa, UNEP Regional Office for Africa, United Nations Economic Commission for Africa, COMIFAC, African Union Commission, Pan-African Agency for the Great Green Wall of the Sahel and Sahara Initiative, and the Permanent Interstate Committee for Drought Control in the Sahel (CILSS) work with AFF on several issues such as those related to FLEGT and climate change.
Impact: Stakeholders and the international community recognise that AFF plays a prominent role in generating high quality, up-to-date information, and in providing collaborative opportunities related to African forests and trees. This is clear from our rapidly growing membership (over 640 members from around the world). Currently, our website has over 144 pages and contains 99 downloadable documents. Annual visits to our website number over 70,000, and the annual number of document downloads from our website now exceeds 40,000. The Global Forest Information Service (GFIS), with 18,000 visitors a month to its website, has just added several RSS feeds featuring AFF’s newsletters and publications. Due to stakeholder demand, AFF publications, such as the book “Climate change and forest and wildlife resources in Africa”, and the teaching and training compendium “Non-wood forest products and services for socio-economic development, will enter a 2nd printing, and are being considered for translation into French.
General Long-term Impact:
The visibility of the African forest and trees stakeholder community is much higher. Stakeholders are better able to be informed, to liaise with each other, to work together and to represent Africa with one voice on the international stage. The growing membership of AFF indicates that it is a central organisation that unites many stakeholders in the common goal of attaining the sustainable management of forest and tree resources. In this way, AFF is also making progress on alleviating poverty through its activities and the activities of those who work with information provided by AFF. This work has the potential to improve livelihoods in a manner that preserves the environment for generations to come.