International Conference on Forest Governance, Tenure and Enterprise:
New Opportunities for Livelihoods and Wealth in Central and West Africa
Please see links at bottom of page for conference outputs
This five-day international conference was jointly organized by International Tropical Timber Organization, Rights and Resources Initiative, IUCN Cameroon, the Ministry of Forests and Wildlife of Camerooon and other partners. The conference was held from May 25-29 2009 in Yaoundé, Cameroon.
The purpose of the conference was to catalyze new and broader actions by government and civil society to secure tenure rights in Central and West Africa. This involved setting goals and developing agendas for new interventions and reform.
Hosted by: Ministry of Forests and Wildlife of Cameroon (MINFOF)
Co-organized by: International Tropical Timber Organization (ITTO), Rights and Resources Initiative (RRI), World Conservation Union (UICN), UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR), Intercooperation, World Agroforestry Center (ICRAF), Global Alliance of Community Forestery (GACF), Commission for the Forests of Central Africa (COMIFAC), Ministry of Forests and Wildlife of Cameroon (MINFOF)
Supported by: Dutch Foreign Affairs Ministry (Buitenlandse Zaken), Departement for International Development of the United Kingdom (DFID), Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (NORAD), Swedish International Development Agency (SIDA), Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (DDC), U.S. Departement of State, Ford Foundation, International Development Research Center (IDRC)
In Central and West Africa, as in many regions across the world, it is widely recognized that weak governance and insecure tenure rights, such as overlapping or conflicting claims, inequity in the allocation of rights, or a lack of recognition and acknowledgment of customary ownership, undermine the contributions of forestry to local, national and regional livelihoods and economies, as well as to the health of our global environment.
The national policies and legislation of most Central and West African countries do not allow communities living in or near forest regions to manage forest resources and engage in enterprise, and where this is permitted, we find that neither the public nor private sectors are yet oriented or equipped to provide the support that community forest management and enterprise needs to develop and thrive. In many cases, community forest tenure and business face unfounded prejudice, and often, communities themselves lack the requisite collective self-confidence to take on the challenge of management or enterprise. Just as for corporate ventures, success requires the existence of appropriate policy and regulatory conditions and also appropriate organizational, technical, marketing and financial support services.
For forest communities, clarifying and recognizing their tenure rights and access to valuable forest resources opens up opportunities and options for them to invest, engage in small scale enterprise, generate needed revenue and enhance the sustainable use of forests. Communities have demonstrated an ability to develop globally competitive enterprises that provide creative and dignified employment in ecological services, extraction of a wide range of timber and non-timber forest products, processing and manufacturing. Furthermore, unlike the dominant forest management and industry models, community enterprises tend to reinvest the wealth generated locally in productive and social infrastructure thereby ensuring a virtuous cycle of economic and social development.
Clear and secure tenure is also key to formulating and implementing just, equitable and sound measures to facilitate the adaptation of forests to climate change and to reduce emissions from deforestation and forest degradation. The rise in the global average temperature presents all with an enormous challenge and forested environments are a source of emissions, are impacted by climate change, and are also at the center of strategies to counter the current trend of mounting temperatures.
Against the foregoing background and in response to the calls from the African participants in the 2007 International Conference on Community Forest Management and Enterprise in Acre, Brazil, the International Tropical Timber Organization (ITTO) and the Rights and Resources Initiative (RRI) organized this conference, which was hosted by the Ministry of Forests and Wildlife of the Government of Cameroon. Participants included government leaders of ITTO producer countries, representatives from ministries in charge of land and property matters, members of civil society and community groups and representatives of international and donor organizations.
The conference catalyzed new and broader actions on securing tenure rights in Central and West Africa for implementation by governments, civil society organizations and local communities, with the support of international institutions and funding agencies. This involved setting up goals and developing agendas for new interventions and reform. Participants shared experiences in securing tenure rights, including the relationship between tenure reform and other goals such as uplifting livelihoods, securing investment, spurring small scale enterprises, and addressing climate change. The diversity of stakeholders present, and the multiplicity of perspectives they represented allowed for discussion and debate, and the strengthening of collaborations and partnerships. The new initiatives emanating from this conference will help strengthen the impact of other key initiatives particularly on forest law enforcement and governance and voluntary partnership agreements that are being launched in Africa, all of which point to the necessity and urgency of clarifying rights.
This is a strategic and timely opportunity to build on the existing and growing awareness among Central and West African government leaders of the necessity to address these issues and to spur action to improve existing frameworks of forest ownership and use. Strengthened and clarified tenure rights will play a crucial role in facilitating the most efficient and just allocation, use and preservation of forest resources to address local, national, continental and global interests and concerns.
PresentationsBelow are presentations and remarks made during the conference.
Keynote and Opening Statements
Official opening address by H.E. the Minister (in French) Kyeretwie Opoku, Civic Response and RRI Facilitator in Africa
Cécile Ndjebet, Cameroun Ecologie and N'gonga Community Forest
Opening address by ITTO (in French)
Emmanuel Ze Meka, Executive Director, ITTO
Click here to browse and download the plenary presentations
Key Messages and Recommendations: International Conference on Forest Tenure, Governance and Enterprise: New Opportunities for Central and West Africa
Minsitry of Forests and Wildlife of Cameroon; International Tropical Timber Organization (ITTO); Central African Commission (COMIFAC); Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO); Global Alliance of Forest Communities (GACF); Rights and Resources; CIFOR; World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF); IUCN; Intercooperation
Declaration of African Women
African Women's Network for Community Management of Forests
- International media coverage of the conference
- Online Press Room
- Press release - Conference Opening
- Press release - New study: Tropical Forest Tenure Assessment: Trends, Challenges and Opportunities
- Media releases from IUCN (in French)
- Media releases from ITTO
Tropical Forest Tenure Assessment : Trends, Challenges and Opportunities
Rights and Resources; International Tropical Timber Organization (ITTO)