Central Africa, between the necessity of growth and the challenge

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At its meeting in Marseille between 3 and 11 September, the Congress of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) expressed the need to protect, preserve and restore at least half of the planet. First goal: protect at least 30% of the planet by 2030 and create a network of protected areas.

On June 29, Cirada published a new report on protected areas in Central Africa, which several experts worked on, especially those from the Central African Forest Observatory. Management, tourism, conflicts between humans and wildlife or even relations with the extractive industries, these are among the themes addressed in the report on protected areas in Central Africa.

“What we have tried to highlight is to emphasize the problems, the conflicts that may exist, but above all to see how we could overcome these problems and these conflicts and propose recommendations, to improve the effective management of protected areas,” explains Charles Doumenge, researcher at CIRAD. He is the co-author and editor-in-chief of the report on protected areas in the ten countries in the region.

Ask the right questions The report noted an increase in the size of protected areas in Central Africa, but the need to develop forestry is still a threat to countries striving to increase their incomes. The leaders of these countries must ask the right questions, according to Charles Doumenge.

“Does this mineral wealth participate in the development of the entire population of the country, in particular rural development? And there we realize that some countries, which have very rich oil and mining resources, are among the twenty poorest countries on the planet. So there it raises the question of how this wealth is distributed and what it is used for, he says.

Conservation efforts in Central Africa Officials in each country are, of course, entitled to choose to use new resources, even if there are protected areas where mining should be banned, regardless of the raw material used. We discover there.

Florence, coordinator of the Riofac project (Strengthening and institutionalization of the Central African Forest Observatory) and co-editor of the report on Central African protected areas.

The Congo Basin is the basin that has less deforestation. But when we talk about deforestation in this region, we have the impression that it is being strengthened. And that is why countries always say to themselves: it is we who preserve and do the least damage, but there is no economic impact! All of these conservation versus development issues require land use planning. And the conservation area should be seen as part of the planning of land use. There is therefore a whole system, tools and levers to be able to combine conservation and development. Central Africa makes conservation efforts, although some countries are more advanced than others. Protected areas have increased, with today 800000 km². But much remains to be done to sustainably preserve biodiversity in a region that is the planet’s second lung.

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