Africa’s forests are set to play a major role in the implementation of continent’s Agenda 2063, the Paris Agreement and the SDGs.

That is according to the executive secretary of Kenyan-based Africa Forest Forum Prof. Godwin Kowero.

AGENDA 2063 is Africa’s blueprint and master plan for transforming Africa into the global powerhouse of the future. It is the continent’s strategic framework that aims to deliver on its goal for inclusive and sustainable development for unity, self-determination, freedom, progress and collective prosperity pursued under Pan-Africanism and African Renaissance

Prof. Kowero says, African dry forests sandwich the agricultural belt, serving as a reservoir for additional agricultural land, and increasingly supporting irrigated agriculture because of its support for many river basins.

Combining all these benefits, he says, it would be clearly seen that the forests are critical to the socio-economic development and environmental stability of the continent.

 Prof. Kowero, however, bemoans the level at which continent’s forests are under extreme pressure mainly due to agricultural expansion that leads to extensive deforestation, and land degradation.

In a statement released ahead of AFF’s commemoration of a decade of its work on African forestry which comes off on May 22, 2019, the executive secretary explains the primary areas of focus by African forest stakeholders in order to restore the integrity, functionality, as well as the resilience of the forests.

The Executive secretary says AFF is providing a platform that facilitates change in the forestry sector adding that, it is this special character that gives the institution the ability to continually adjust to the ever-changing environment that affects forests and trees.

Since its establishment, the African Forest Forum (AFF) has provided a bridge between science-based knowledge and good policies to support sustainable forest management; effectively working within a science-policy-management framework.

As awareness has grown on the role of forests and trees in national economic development, livelihoods and environmental stability, AFF has steadily gained membership and capacity to work on these and other related issues.

“We have leveraged on the distinct expertise and comparative advantage of its character to influence and facilitate organizations and people to take actions that could better situate forestry in the path of sustainable development of African nations.” Prof. Kowero further explains.

The celebration would including a launch of eight training compendiums on various aspects of climate change in forestry, as well as a book titled, “The State of Forestry in Africa: Opportunities and Challenges will take place in Nairobi Kenya.

“We started this journey on December 06, 2007 when AFF was registered as a not-for-profit NGO in Nairobi Kenya, and with a grant from the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida) in 2008, which helped us, among other things, to set up AFF as a platform that could support African forestry stakeholders to discuss and mobilize resources for improved management and use of their forest and tree resources. 

“A second grant from the Swiss Development Cooperation Agency (SDC), has strengthened AFF as an institution that is gradually being   recognized and respected as another key actor on the African forestry scene” says, Prof Godwin Kowero, Executive Secretary-CEO at AFF

Africa’s current forest covers 624 million hectares representing natural capital that supports rural livelihoods and national economies. It contributes 21% of the total global carbon stock held in forests.

With respect to the provision of ecosystem services, the forests regulate supplies of water since many river headwaters are found in them and provide the bulk of energy in the form of fuelwood for domestic and rural industry uses.

It is estimated that about 82% of household energy in Africa is derived from wood, while about 72 million m³ of wood is removed annually as industrial roundwood.

They are an important source of wood for construction of farm structures, building homes and fabrication of furniture for the majority of people in the forest zone/belt.