From: Apollinaire Niyirora, SciDevNet, More from this Affiliate
Published September 4, 2012 02:43 PM

Ten African countries unite to protect rainforests

Ten central African countries have come together to protect the Congo Basin rainforest — the world's second largest rainforest — from severe deforestation, through implementing improved national forest monitoring systems and boosting regional cooperation.


The 18-month project, launched on 26 July, is managed by the Central Africa Forests Commission (COMIFAC) and the UN's Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) in collaboration with Brazil's National Institute for Space Research (INPE).

"Forest monitoring will be [carried out through] advanced observation mechanisms using satellite images," Felix Ngendabanyikwa, COMIFAC's National Coordinator in Burundi, told SciDev.Net. "With this technique, we can see trees being cut down or fire devastating a forest, and can estimate the extent of forest degraded."

The €6.1 million (US$7.7 million) project will use modern forest monitoring techniques instead of more traditional and "inefficient techniques", such as routinely driving through forests to make observations, Ngendabanyikwa explained. It will, however, combine innovative remote sensing with direct physical observations, to ensure "correlation" between data collected on degraded forests.

The project will build COMIFAC member states' technical and legislative capacities for improved governance and sustainable forest management.

"Each state will set up a national committee comprising various stakeholders to develop a National Strategy [on] Reducing Emissions and Forest Degradation in Developing Countries (REDD)," said Ngendabanyikwa. These "will define forests monitoring mechanisms," with COMIFAC's support.

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