19 March 2013

Central Africa: Trans-border Crime Threatens Congo Basin Biodiversity

Photo: Daniel Hayduk/IRIN
A fisherman in the Lomé harbour. The threat of piracy has increased drastically in Togo and neighbouring Benin.

Countries of the Congo Basin now face a new threat to biodiversity. Crimes across national borders within the Central African Forest Commission (COMIFAC) are seriously undermining conservation efforts, creating the necessity to merge vital economic growth with social and environmental considerations. The information was disclosed by Forestry and Wildlife Minister Ngole Philip Ngwese who presided at the 12th session of the Congo Basin Forest Partnership (CBFP) in Douala yesterday March 19.

During his opening speech, the Minister called for assistance from the Commission's partners in the fight towards a veritable industrialisation in the forest sector of the Sub-region, while improving competitiveness and drawing up an appropriate development programme for rural areas of the countries. The session which convened representatives with a range of experiences and abilities from all countries of the sub-region will between March 19 and 20 discuss ways of conserving and managing infrastructure. Minister Ngole Ngwese revealed how the government of Cameron is prepared to host COMIFAC head office. He said the Prime Minister of Cameroon has put in place FCFA 1 billion for the construction of the office and has instructed the renovation of the ANAFOR building, which will serve as part of COMIFAC building. Government's wish is to secure more support so that all institutions of related nature will be constructed in Cameroon at the said premises.

The Executive Secretary of COMIFAC, Raymond Mbitikon, during a press conference at the Sawa Hotel, called on all countries to be involved in managing forest resources sustainably. The forest, he pointed out, contribute a great deal to local development as well as national economies. Considering the environmental, social and economic importance of tropical forest, the government of Cameroon after the Rio Summit of 1992 considers the sustainable management of forest resources as one of the pillars of government policies.

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