Secondary forest in the southern part of Nigeria. Photo © Larwanou Mahamane /AFF

The African Union (AU) designated March 3 of every year as, African Environment Day and Wangari Maathai Day in honour of the late Nobel Laureate’s legacy for environmental conservation. This year, the theme is “Reimagining the Future: Clean and Green Cities for All. Build Back Better!” – a reminder of the urgent need to integrate environmental elements into economic development.

Often underestimated, forests and trees outside forests, have great potential in helping African countries transition towards a greener, more inclusive model of urban development (UNEP 2016).

They play a central role in the carbon cycle by releasing oxygen while locking up carbon dioxide in the trees and soil. Natural forest resources also provide essential environmental services, such as conservation of biodiversity, building of soils and watershed protection. Beyond their contribution as a source of wood, they support social values, livelihood ‘safety nets’ in often fragile rural areas.

In this regard, the African Forest Forum (AFF)’s mandate is more important than ever. AFF is one of the leading institutions on the continent addressing the diversity of important concerns from an Africa-wide context, particularly in the basic science of forestry and related sectors such as agriculture, water resources and energy. It is already conducting research programs and implementing projects at grassroots level with partners at national scale to strengthen the understanding of the dynamics of forest ecosystems, the people who depend on them, the policy and regulatory frameworks that govern the people and these resources, and the research-policy development interface that informs decision making at all levels.

While collaborative partnerships are the way forward for lasting progress on sustainable forest management (SFM), information exchange on the strengths of and lessons learned by countries on the continent can accelerate replication of results and practices to benefit more people and also secure the protection of our environment. As a contribution to this effort, AFF has leveraged on the distinct expertise of its character to promote technical and scientific exchanges on issues related to; forest governance, sustainable land use management practices, REDD+, climate change, green economy, renewable energy and ecosystem services. For the most part, these exchanges have been peer-to-peer, practical and cost-effective.

With 2,214 members from all over the continent and beyond, AFF has also led the way in contributing to developing AU’s Sustainable Forest Management Framework for Africa (2020-2030) to guide the continent in sustainable exploitation of forest resources. In addition, AFF is the lead institution in the implementation of the seventh pillar of the ECOWAS Convergence Plan on Forests, namely “information, education and communication”. Furthermore, AFF has supported the development of the IGAD Regional Forestry Policy to guide in efforts to halt deforestation and forest degradation in the region through enhanced cooperation, coordination and political commitment. The three initiatives will have a positive impact on SDG 11 (sustainable cities and communities) and help countries meet the AU Agenda 2063.

The activities AFF is undertaking are integral components of its two main projects. Namely: Strengthening management and use of forest ecosystems for sustainable development in Africa; and African forests, people and climate change; which are financially supported by the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida) and the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC), respectively.

It is anticipated that the wealth of information generated through these activities will help provide a good basis to develop and expand the forestry sector in Africa.

For further information, please contact

The Executive Secretary,

African Forest Forum,

United Nations Avenue, Gigiri

P.O. Box 30677-00100, Nairobi, Kenya.

Phone: +254 20 722 4203.

Fax: +254 20 722 4001/4181