Africa needs effective national and regional policies to manage forestry and relatednatural resources. And for this to happen, parliamentarians and policy-makers in the continentrequire an understanding and demonstrated appreciation ofthe significance of forests and trees for livelihoods, the integrity of the environment and supportto economic activities, at various levels of the society.
In the above context, an inter-parliamentary hearingon the significance of enacting and implementing relevant forest policies was held at Protea Hotel Courtyard, Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, 9-12 July 2013. It attracted over 35 legislators, policy-makers and experts drawn from Ghana, Kenya, Malawi, Rwanda, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia, Zimbabwe and Germany. The participants committed themselves to raising awareness among legislators and policymakers about the significant role of forests and trees for livelihoods, the environment and the future of life on earth.
This event was convened by Word Future Council with the support of the Government of the Republic of Tanzania, through the Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism and the Tanzania Forest Services Agency; and also with the support of the United Nations Forum on Forests, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) Regional Office for Africa and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).Given that policies related to forestry are at the core of AFFs work, the Executive Secretary, Prof. Godwin Kowero, represented the institution at this meeting.
In light of the critical importance of forests and their continuing plight, the 2013 hearing focused on regional and national laws that deliver significant improvements to forests and to people who depend on them. Focus topics of the hearing were:
People in forest management (moderated by Prof. Godwin Kowero)
Sustainable wood fuels
Protecting natural forests through buffer zone management
Participants agreed to serve as goodwill ambassadors for forests in Africa and promote and support women as key actors in the protection and sustainable management of forests and trees.
The world Future Council has been at the forefront of promoting enactment and implementation of forestry related policies in Africa. During the International Year of Forests 2011, the World Future Council presented the Future Policy Award to exemplary forest policies that sustainably protect, enhance, and utilize forests. The National Forest Policy of Rwanda, initiated in 2004, won the gold award and the Gambian Community Forest Policy received the silver award. In 2012, the World Future Council conducted an Inter-Parliamentary hearing in Kigali, Rwanda, with the support of the Rwanda Ministry of Natural Resources, the Rwanda Natural Resources Authority (RNRA), the Rwanda Environment Management Authority (REMA), the United Nations Forum on Forests (UNFF), the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO and GLOBE International. At the hearing, parliamentarians, policy makers and experts from Burundi, Cameroon, Ghana, Kenya, Malawi, Rwanda, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia made the commitment to take back to their countries these ideas, policies, and successful experiences in order to gain support for their implementation as declared in the Kigali Declaration on Forests for People.