Forests play a crucial role in climate change evolution and dynamics. The effects of climate change may also greatly impact forest ecosystems, which will reflect on the living conditions of local forest-dependent people. To tackle threats from climate change, the international community promotes the setting up of policies and actions that can concomitantly contribute to reducing vulnerability and mitigating climate change effects. This includes the implementation of appropriate practices of conservation and actions for sustainable management of forests, which are likely to contribute substantially to the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions as well as to the increase of carbon stock pools. Therefore, African countries, many of which are currently going through socio-economic and political changes, and are characterised by wide-spread poverty, must develop policies and concrete action plans geared at protecting their populations and forests from the threats of climate change. It is in this context that the project “African Forests, People and Climate Change”, developed and run by the African Forest Forum (AFF), is being implemented.
The objective of this study is to review and critically analyse forest governance and equitable trade practices related to climate change with a focus on the capacities of public forestry administrations in Central Africa (CA) countries. More specifically, the study focused on the following tasks: evaluate and profile the capacities (human, financial and physical) of national forest administrations in climate change work (including safeguards and Measuring, Reporting and Verification system (MRVs) in all CA countries; assess existing trade and trade potentials in forest products and services in individual CA countries and between the CA region and other sub-regions in Africa, and in the world at large; evaluate negative trade impacts of cross border trade between countries in CA, as well as market distortions in the context of the fuel-food nexus, and with special emphasis on deforestation and forest degradation (leakages); assess the efficiency in the value chain involving fibre (wood/timber products, including NTFPs) and fuel, and identify and describe approaches for improving the efficiency in the value chain. The emphasis is to assess efficiency in the value chain of key timber and non-timber products and how this can be improved, including comparisons between countries in CA on how they are  moving on the value chain; propose recommendations to improve forest governance, trade in timber and nontimber products, and livelihoods using forest and tree resources, taking into account potential impacts of climate change on these resources in CA. An analytical review of forest governance and equitable trade practices related to climate change in Central Africa
The data collection for the study was essentially based on the following approaches: review of forest policies and legislations for CA countries, as well as sub-regional legal instruments ratified within the framework of the Central Africa Forest
Commission (COMIFAC); documentation and literature review relating to forest governance, trade of forest products and climate change; consultation of quantitative data from FAO, ITTO, UNECA and the Observatory for the Forests of Central Africa (OFAC) statistical data bases; and, Individual interviews with ten key experts at the sub-regional level and within forest administrations (Cameroon, Republic of Congo, Gabon and the Democratic Republic of Congo). Therefore, this analytical review of forest governance and equitable trade practices related to climate change, with a focus on the capacities of public forestry administrations, reveals an ambivalent global picture and trend. On the one hand, CA is characterized by high forest resource potentials that can
contribute to the global concern of climate change impacts, nourish forest-dependent people and increase forest products trade flows inside and outside Africa, notably with improved processed wood. On the other hand, COMIFAC Member States are
weak on MRV capacities and financial means, NTFPs trade and monitoring, forest management and related practices that contribute to high rates of deforestation, and are suffering biodiversity loss. More precisely, this study points out that: CA has 37% of the total African forest resources; an average of 4.5 million m3 of wood is exported from CA per year, notably to EU; intra-African trade flows are still weak; the NTFPs niche is mostly dominated by informal practices; fuelwood collection, chainsaw milling, illegal harvesting, land use conflicts and forest land conversion to agriculture are the main drivers of deforestation and forest degradation; MRV capacities and domestic financial means are weak. However, the identified gaps and shortcomings could be partly improved with the adoption of some governance actions in the framework of the Regional Economic Communities (ReCs), that are being built in Africa, and the design and implementation processes of both the VPAs/FLEGT and REDD+ mechanisms. The
following measures must be taken. An analytical review of forest governance and equitable trade practices related to climate change in Central Africa a) National public forest administration and climate change Each CA country should set up a recruitment plan for the coming years to overcome the lack of sufficient domestic experts in their respective forest administrations. However, in the short term, the lack of appropriate expertise in MRV to better tackle climate change mitigation issues can be supplied by
participating in short training sessions and capacity development on national forest monitoring skills, which can be provided and supported by some organisations such as AFF. Currently, most CA countries (except CAR, DRC) have not yet built vulnerability
maps and adaptation policies and related strategies. In this perspective, there is a niche for regional organisations like AFF to give technical support to those countries that are trying to develop such policies and strategies connected to forest management and forest dependent communities. b) Forest governance and socio-economic development Forest and trade governance must be improved through adequate remuneration and strict disciplinary measures to reduce corruption of custom official, forest officers and local administration and police. Social and economic development should be promoted, particularly in remote and isolated border areas, and marketing of locally produced wood and NTFPs should be facilitated in those areas to increase competitiveness. Meet the expectations of the US and European markets to verify the legitimacy of imported timber by initiating or completing ongoing processes (VPA/FLEGT and Lacey Act). Also in this perspective, AFF could be involved (as independent observer) by monitoring, reporting and verifying (MRV) their implementation. c) Forest products trade and services Increase local wood processing conversion rates. This could further diversify processed products by developing industrial processing and encouraging the use of timber and NTFPs in African countries. Provide technical support and an enabling market information system as well as value chain platforms for individual and small/medium scale enterprises in countries and cross-border areas. AFF is one of the organisations that can fulfil
this role by providing support. Trade flows of forests products should be monitored, including the issue of crossborder trade, which should be added to the agenda of quarterly, semi-annual and annual bilateral meetings among countries. In this perspective, AFF can play a key role by elaborating and providing facilitating tools. d) Cross border trade and deforestation and forest degradation An analytical review of forest governance and equitable trade practices related to climate change in Central Africa
Find ways of improving the performance of CEMAC and ECCAS by conducting studies that will lead to a better understanding of the weaknesses and threats to the functioning of these organizations, and advice member countries on the opportunities and strengths for effective regional integration. Elaborate a framework for the involvement of forest communities through a winwin business development approach with the local and international agroindustrial enterprises involved in the forest sector in the CA region. e) Efficiency in the value chain of timber and NTFPs CA countries should increase the efficiency of the forest product value chains by taking stringent measures to reduce the export of raw materials and promoting the production of processed and further processed wood products such as wood based panels, paperboards, fibre boards, furniture and wooden cabinets. AFF can help by identifying improved technologies that are adapted to national and regional needs. There is need to strengthen intra-regional trade and remove cross-border bottlenecks. AFF can assist in conducting research that showcase what countries stand to gain from efficiency in regional trade.