African governments have been urged to collaborate to reverse the worrying trend of deforestation on the continent, as forests are under pressure from agricultural production and every effort must be made to protect the rich biodiversity of plant and animal species.
Africa’s tropical forests boast a rich biodiversity of over 23,000 plant and animal species, including three of the world’s four great apes: bonobos, gorillas and chimpanzees. Yet, as in other continents, Africa’s forests are under pressure from agricultural production: rubber and especially palm oil and cocoa.
Speaking at the fourth regional meeting of the Africa Palm Oil Initiative (APOI) – held in Accra and organised by Proforest on behalf of the TFA 2020 and aimed at sharing and learning from the APOI experience and building public-private partnerships for responsible oil palm development throughout the region – Edo State Governor Mr. Godwin Obasek made a strong case to ensure sustainable development of the palm oil sector in continent.
“Edo State is creating an enabling environment for investment into the expansion of oil palm plantations in line with international regulations,” he said.
The Africa Palm Oil Initiative (APOI) is TFA 2020’s first Signature Initiative. Its goal is to help transition the palm oil sector in West and Central Africa to become a sustainable driver of long-term, low-carbon development in a way that is socially beneficial and protects the tropical forests of the region.
Mr. Obaseki said that the state is developing robust forestry management structures to ensure the conservation of biodiversity even as oil palm plantations expand their operations, and that a 16-member forestry advisory committee has been constituted to streamline the management of forestry assets and structure by the state’s Forestry Commission.
The Director of Tropical Forest Alliance for 2020, Mr. Marco Albani, called on government to invest in agro-forestry which involves the incorporation of tree-cultivation in the agricultural process.
Proforest is in collaboration with the TFA and a number of national and sub-national governments to rally support for the “reduction of rampant destruction of forests and find ways to generate better revenue from them”.
Mr. Abraham Baffoe, Africa Regional Director of Proforest, said the meeting was meant to assess the progress that has been made to protect Africa’s rich tropical forests from increasing pressure by agricultural production.
“In order to achieve deforestation-free commodity supply chains, and balance economic development in the region, it is vital that we act collectively: ranging from government to the private sector, civil society and indigenous and community groups. The work of the TFA 2020, such as the Africa Palm Oil Initiative, is an important step toward this,” he said.
The meeting brought together key stakeholders from relevant commodity sectors throughout West and Central Africa, including members of the public and private sectors from the APOI country teams as well as other stakeholders with an interest and commitment to achieving deforestation-free commodity supply chains.