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The private sector has a role to play in conserving the Congo Basin Forests – Experts

Written by: Steven Nsamaza
Wednesday, November 23rd, 2016, 5:19

Conservation experts at the 2016 Congo Basin Forest Partnership (CBFP) conference have called on the private sector to play a leading role in protection and sustainable management of forests and the entire biodiversity in the Central Africa region.


Speaking on the first day of the conference, Andrea Athanas, Program Design Director at the African Wildlife Foundation (AWF) said that with the growing population amid the changing climatic conditions, people continue to invest so as to improve production and create space for settlement, thus putting pressure on wildlife habitats.


“Massive investments are coming in this region that has put pressure on land and water resources, and this has huge implications on wildlife in particular,” Athanas said. “We need to sit with the private sector and engage in constructive solution creation,” she added.


So far, it has been observed that with over 500 delegates attending the 16thgeneral assembly of CBFP, the private sector is minimally represented with only companies in eco-tourism and forest sector in attendance.


Jef Dupain, Regional Director, Central and Western Africa at the AWF also underlined the importance of bringing on board the private sector, because, many times the private sector is willing to participate in conservation but, often, they do not understand well the roles they can play because of lack of information.


It is believed that the private sector can reinforce the conservation of wildlife resources and habitat, while re-investments in communities can enable those societies live side by side with wildlife and have economic opportunities through access to value chain and achieve economic growth.


According to Athanas, AWF is already working with the private sector in landscapes where the organisation operates in sectors of palm oil production, mining, dam and road construction among others.


This, said Athanas, has created space for the companies to move in a way that is compatible with wildlife conservation.


The experts meeting at the CBFP seeks to create groupings that will include international NGO’s, development partners, private sector, government and local community based organisations with representatives to meet in a council.


The 5-day meeting is expected to produce concrete outputs of direct relevance and value to CBFP members and practitioners in the field as well as key recommendations addressed to policymakers on a limited and well-focused set of crucial issues.


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