Preserving the forests of Central Africa was at the heart of discussions in Gabon in 1988 that led to the six-country Central Africa Forest Ecosystems program to manage a protected area.
In 1996, the International Union for the Conservation of Nature convened a conference on the Dense Moist Forests of Central Africa to raise the political profile of forest conservation and to promote regional collaboration.
In 1999, the Cameroon Government and World Wildlife Fund hosted a summit of Heads of State of the region that culminated with the Yaoundé Declaration on the Congo Basin forest. In December 2000, the Conference of Ministers of Forestry of Central Africa, COMIFAC, met for the first time in Yaoundé.
The primary work tool for COMIFAC, the institutional home to specialized regional collaborative bodies, is a Convergence Plan with ten Strategic Areas
1. harmonizing forest policy and taxation
2. resource knowledge and inventory
3. ecosystem management
4. biodiversity conservation
5. sustainable use of forest resources
6. alternative income generation
8. innovative financing mechanisms
9. capacity building and training
10. regional cooperation and partnerships
The international donor community has supported the forestry sector in Central Africa since the mid-1980s, when the Tropical Forest Action Plan process began. In the late 1990s, under the general umbrella of the World Bank, a series of Forest-Environment Sector Programs evolved and led to Forestry Codes, which were recently revised in most of the Congo Basin countries. Many other donors, including Germany, France, UK, Netherlands, Belgium, Canada, the US, the EU, the Global Environment Facility, the International Tropical Timber Organization and UN Agencies are also active in the conservation and management of the forests of the Congo Basin.
At the 2002 World Summit on Sustainable Development, the Congo Basin Forest Partnership was created to enhance collaboration among those working to improve the management and conservation of the Congo Basin rainforest. An initially loose federation of donors, government agencies responsible for forest management in the Congo Basin, international and national NGOs and research institutions has grown in strength and complexity.
In 2002, the first State of The Forest was published and in 2006 and 2008 the State of the Forest theme was The Forests of the Congo Basin.
The Congo Basin Forest Fund was launched in June 2008 with a grant of £100 million from the governments of the UK and Norway to develop the capacity of the people and institutions of the Congo Basin to preserve and manage their forests.
Increased logging, changing agricultural patterns, population growth and the oil and mining industries are all putting greater pressure on the forests today. The rate at which the forests are cleared must be slowed or stopped to preserve their carbon-storing capacity, their complex ecosystem and biodiversity, and watershed protection.
The Congo Basin Forest Fund accepts proposals from NGOs and governments for innovative and transformative projects that change the way people live in and earn a living from the Congo Basin forests and the way that governments protect and preserve them, thereby contributing to fighting climate change.