GTZ fosters tropical forest conservation in the Congo Basin

Sunday, December 23, 2007

For the next two years, Germany will coordinate the Congo Basin Forest Partnership, which strives to improve conservation of tropical forests in the Congo Basin. This area is home to millions of people and is of central importance, not only for the global climate, but also for plant and animal diversity. The last larger groups of gorillas, bonobos and chimpanzees – three of the four ape species threatened with extinction – live here. GTZ will support the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) in the next two years to implement the international agenda on forest protection and secure new sources of finance for nature conservation and sustainable forest management.  At 180 million hectares, the primeval forests in central Africa are five times the size of the Federal Republic of Germany. The German Government has allocated EUR 53 million to the region.

The worldwide economic boom and rising demand for wood has reached the Congo region. “According to FAO figures, annual wood exports are valued at around US$ one billion”, explains Herbert Christ, responsible for the Congo Basin Forest Partnership at GTZ. “Due to widespread corruption, however, revenues from wood exports generally do not contribute to the fight against poverty or the sustainable development of national economies”. Large quantities of precious wood, ivory and minerals have also been acquired illegally from protected forests and used to finance long lasting unrest and civil wars in the area. Soldiers and rebels have additionally helped themselves to charcoal and game meat.

This is why GTZ is active on many levels to promote sustainable forest management. Local populations, local authorities and the private sector, in addition to state agencies, are to become more involved in forest protection.
“Involvement in the Congo Basin is part of global climate protection”, according to Herbert Christ. The Congo Basin Forest Partnership was established at the World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg in 2002. Among the current 36 members are the governments of the Congo Basin countries and the major industrialised countries, the World Bank and international environmental organisations. Herbert Christ elaborates, “we want the natural wealth of the Congo Basin to strengthen the economies of the region and benefit the population. For this reason we support sustainable, socially and ecologically balanced management”.

As an international cooperation enterprise for sustainable development with worldwide operations, GTZ supports the German Government in implementing its development policy goals. GTZ provides sustainable solutions for political, economic, ecological and social development in a globalised world, while promoting complex reforms and change processes, often working under difficult conditions. The goal is to improve people’s living conditions on a sustainable basis.

Source: GTZ