By Kofi Adu Domfeh
As the global community turns attention and focus towards a green growth pathway, the African Forest Forum (AFF) is exploring avenues to improve forest management in a manner that better addresses poverty eradication and environmental protection in Africa.
The AFF, a pan-African non-governmental organization, is implementing a project titled: “Strengthening Sustainable Forest Management in Africa” to generate and share knowledge and information through partnerships in ways that will provide inputs into policy options and capacity building efforts.
One of the key project objectives is to enhance capacity of institutions and individuals – including farmers and farmer organizations, and other private sector actors, professional organizations, and public sector organizations – to achieve forest compatible development.
“The increased global interest in forestry management and green economy offers opportunities for resource mobilization from both public and private sources to support forest management in Africa,” said Professor Godwin Kowero, Executive Secretary of AFF. “The sustainable utilization and conservation of forests to maintain and/or enhance forest ecosystem services is a major part of the green growth pathway, because it also generates co-benefits such as the conservation of biodiversity while securing forest based livelihoods of local communities”.
Prof. Kowero recently addressed a regional workshop in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, which provided a platform for stakeholders in forestry education to deliberate on training programmes that will produce appropriate forestry graduates to manage forests in a changing world.
“The advocacy for effective forest management policies is now driven mainly by a strong and vibrant civil society and an increasingly informed population. It is therefore important to understand how forestry education on the continent is preparing the future generation in putting the forestry sector on a green economy pathway,” he stated.
He also touched on another key area – climate change – stating that over and above its contribution to climate change mitigation and adaptation, the role of forests in enhancing the climate resilience of communities to environmental changes in general is being recognized as an important opportunity.
“Due to the need to contain global warming, we have a new commercial product in the forestry sector, forest carbon. It is important to understand how our training institutions are handling these and related issues,” Prof. Kowero noted.
He further stated that it is very important to understand how our education in forestry is shaping a generation that can meaningfully use forest and tree resources to address issues of food and nutrition security on the continent.
The Africa Forest Forum has commissioned two studies in Anglophone, Lusophone and Francophone Sub-Sahara African countries that look into the needs of employers of forestry graduates from the universities and technical colleges.
The employer needs or expectations are matched with what these institutions offer in their curricula.
The AFF will receive and discuss the findings and decide how the continent can contain the identified gaps in training that have become apparent.