African Countries have been encouraged to provide incentives that will empower its people to keep the forests intact.
Civil society organisations and representatives of Indigenous Forest Communities have observed that the pressure from agriculture to produce high yields of food in some cases have resulted in reducing and depleting the forest.
About 100 participants and stakeholders from indigenous communities and CSOs across Africa have therefore been schooled to understand why they must continuously be stewards of the forests.
At a regional consultative workshop on the sidelines of the Africa Climate Week, Executive Director of the Pan African Climate Justice Alliance (PACJA), Mithika Mwenda, said the programme helps communities to benefit directly from sustainably managed forests.
“This program is to encourage countries to be able to give incentives to keep these forests standing to act as carbon ceilings so through that we are paid and incentivised to address that to keep them standing,” he said.
The REDD+ program is a mechanism to reduce emissions reduce deforestation and further damage of the forest land cover, and forest degradation in developing countries.
Mr Mwenda said that when forests are left standing they can be more valuable than when they are cut down.
“The forest does not belong to the government, they belong to the people, so once they understand their own then they are going to be stewards and become watchdogs of these forests,” he reiterated.
Executive Director of the Mainyoito Pastoralists Integrated Development Organization (MPIDO), Joseph Ole Simel, explained that extraordinary issues such as REDD+ and climate change require extraordinary measures to tackle.
According to him, the workshop has shown that partnership is very critical, with government and communities, to harmonise these issues to have a positive impact.
“Our resources, our lands are at stake, we must be very careful in as much as these resources are coming, we will not compromise on our communities. Communities stand up and defend their rights, we can only do that if we take part in these discussions and arose to the occasion and be resilient”, he said.
During his presentation, Hayford Duodu from DGM-Ghana said traditional knowledge in indigenous communities needs to be brought out, and documented to help in the process.
“We are here because we want to take charge and control of this process of REDD+, a process conceptualised and financed by the developed country. We need to address these issues as a united front,” he said.
The meeting is part of the activities implemented by PACJA and MPIDO, which are the intermediaries for the Pan African FCPF Capacity Building Program on REDD+ for CSOs and Forest dependent IPs supported by the Forest Carbon Partnership Facility (FCPF) of the World Bank.
The two-day meeting seeks to enhance linkages with national REDD+ processes, identify challenges and best practices in forest preservation in Africa.
Among the countries represented are Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of Congo, Republic of Congo, Cote d’Ivoire, Ethiopia, Gabon, Ghana, Kenya, Liberia, Madagascar, Mozambique, Nigeria, Sudan, Tanzania, Togo and Uganda.
In addition to civil society and indigenous groups, government representatives from some countries also attended the meeting.