Forests and Forestry Products contribute to the well–being of many communities across the Southern African Development Community (SADC) region. As a source of fuel for cooking and heating, fodder for animals, medicine, and resource for shelter, forest resources contribute many of the basic needs of communities and individuals. Furthermore, forests retain carbon and harness soils and as such they are recognised as playing a vital role in mitigating the effects of climate change on the people and environment of the SADC region.
It is widely recognised that there are strong links between local forestry, biodiversity and poverty reduction. Effective forest management encourages forest resource use in a way that supports long-term poverty alleviation and the protection of biodiversity. Effective management of forest resources across the SADC region requires coordination in utilisation and long term enhancement of forest resources. Forestry Resources development should consider and protect related valuable ecosystem services, such as river basin integrity and soil protection and retention.
The Protocol on Forestry
The 2002 Protocol on Forestry provides a policy framework for forest management in the SADC region. Objectives addressed in this protocol include increasing public awareness of forestry and capacity building. More specifically, the framework addresses research gaps, laws, education and training, the harmonisation of regional sustainable management practises, increasing efficiencies of utilisation and facilitation of trade, equitable use of local forests and a respect for traditional knowledge and uses.
SADC objectives for forestry sector management are integrated with the Regional Indicative Strategic Development Plan (RISDP) as well as into the priorities of the Food, Agriculture and Natural Resources (FANR) Directorate.
The following SADC Forestry programmes have been developed at regional level in order to implement the Protocol on Forestry and to promote sustainable management of forests in the SADC region.
- The Regional Cross-border Fire Management Programme focuses on reducing the incidence of uncontrolled forest fires in the region through collaboration by relevant stakeholders. By reducing uncontrolled fires, biodiversity is protected as are the local people who depend on forest products for their livelihoods.
- The SADC Support Programme on Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD+) 2012-2015 provides background information on climate change and REDD, a framework to improve the capacities of Member States to design national REDD programmes and to cooperate on common strategic REDD issues that are of regional interest.
- The SADC Regional Forest law Enforcement, Governance and Trade (FLEGT) Programme has been developed as a first attempt to adopt a comprehensive programme to promote forest law enforcement andgovernance as well as legal harvesting and trade in forest products in the region.
It is against this background that SADC currently focusses on the implementation of these programmes. The following activities and projects exist to support the implementation:
- Development of Integrated Monitoring Systems for REDD+ in the SADC Region
- Transboundary Use and Protection of Natural Resources
Forest Cover in SADC
Source: Global Landcover Project