Non-governmental organization (NGO), African Forests Forum, is encouraging African institutions to place premium on private afforestation initiatives to restore the ecology.
Executive Secretary, Professor Godwin Kowero says Africa stands a chance of profiting from tree plantation if private forestry is well-developed and strengthened.
He was speaking at a 5-day regional workshop on knowledge and experience sharing by public and private sector in Accra.
It focused on development in forestry and response to climate change as well as trans-boundary forestry issues.
Though Professor Godwin Kowero is optimistic the sector will grow with time, he believes a much more augmented industry has potential to give life to jobless Africans.
“If the private sector is not strengthened or operating effectively, we would not make progress in the whole forestry sector,” Professor opined.
Ghana, for instance, has progressively declined in size and quality of her forest resources.
Total carbon stock dropped off from 564 million tonnes in 1970 to 380.9 million tonnes in 2010.
The story is no different in other parts of the continent as African countries face difficult choices to support rational and optimal use of dwindled resource.
Promotion of sustainable livelihood through private- public partnership models and strengthening the industry capacity to address social inclusion and equity is key.
It was one of the ways the Accra forum sought to address.
Land tenure system was one major issue that came up for discussion as way of ensuring viability of the forestry by private sector.
Zimbabwe, for instance, has policies which facilitate the development of a viable private forestry sector.
The Southern African country is however affected by new unclear legislation particularly on Land Tenure and Indigenization Policy.
It stipulates a share ownership of 51 per cent for citizens and 49 per cent for foreigners.
“This affects Foreign Direct Investment, thus, PPPs”, says the country’s representative at the forum, Cuthbert A T Katsvanga.
Global climate is changing which may also affect forests, food and livestock production, hence, the need for information to guide African countries.
This required promotion of integrated and cooperative management of trans-boundary forest resources and international trade in forest resources.
“The forests of Africa are at their most critical stage in the history of mankind, and it behooves on all of us to ensure its security, if it is to better serve the interests and aspiration of the many individuals, families and groups that directly or indirectly depend on them.
Those are the words of Director-General of Ghana’s Council for Scientific and Industrial Research Forestry Research Institute, Professor Victor Kwame Agyeman.
“Knowledge and experience is not in the bosom of only one individual. It is only through meetings such as these that we can share, encourage and challenge one another for a better future,” HE told participants.
The problems, experts at the workshop said, are familiar to most stakeholders, including governments.
The development and implementation of sound effective responses have proved challenging.
The regional event could be cost effective approach for building capacity in forest management to ensure improved adaptive capacity and foster strong institution linkage coordination among countries in Africa.
The workshop brought together over 50 participants from private and public forest sector, government, non-government organizations, researchers, academia, media, youth and women based organizations from 28 countries in sub-Sahara Africa.
The outcome of the event would enable African Forest Forum and its stakeholders to strategize on the development of private sector.
Partnership with public sector in forestry to address socio-economic development and response to climate change in the Africa continent is key.