In order to attain this goal, the programme’s action plan has been structured on the following strategies: a) Policy development for forest conservation; b) Responsible forest management and certification; c) Strengthening civil society for more efficient conservation partnerships; d) REDD+; and e) Communication on lessons learnt.
- Policy development for forest conservation: In collaboration with regional bodies (especially Central African Forests Commission - COMIFAC), national governments, civil society organisations and other stakeholders, the Forest Programme highlights the need for new and/or revised and harmonised legislation. This contributes to improving the forest sector policy at both regional and national levels. It also encourages transparent participatory processes, whereby civil society contribute efficiently to ensure local and indigenous peoples benefit from economic development in their surroundings and forests continue to supply ecosystem services for future generations. Together with other partners, it facilitates opportunities for consultations between different actors. In some countries, the Forest Code and the Mining Code have conflicting regulations, thus requiring harmonisation and adjustment through bylaws.
- Responsible forest management and certification: In this field, the Forest Programme operates largely within the framework of the GFTN (http://www.gftn.panda.org/), which is WWF’s global initiative that aims to eliminate illegal logging and drive improvements in forest management while transforming the global market place, as a key part of the market transformation initiative (MTI - http://worldwildlife.org/initiatives/transforming-business), into a force for saving the world’s valuable and threatened forests. GFTN has been operating in Central Africa since 2003 through formal collaboration with several forest products companies in the five countries, helping them advance toward FSC certification. The work also includes improvement of standards.
- Strengthening civil society for more efficient conservation partnerships: WWF strengthens civil society in order to enhance its capacity to engage in policy dialogue and hold decision makers responsible for their decisions. This is important to ensure that local and indigenous peoples’ voices are heard and that forestry taxes, for instance, are reinvested in local development projects. A stronger civil society is also capable of acting as independent observer of forestry companies and of denouncing illegal operations.
- REDD+: In this area, the Forest Programme works on climate change, mainly on reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation, forest conservation, sustainable forest management and activities to enhance forest carbon sinks. This UN-backed scheme is known as REDD+. It works to combat climate change by providing incentives for people for reducing carbon emissions by keeping forests standing for forest ecosystem services. The work is done at several levels: global (participation in international working groups bringing lessons from the field), regional (supporting COMIFAC and countries ahead of big international meetings), national (helping governments prepare their REDD+ strategies and action plans) and local.
- Communications: Through effective communications, the Forest Programme highlights the positive and negative impacts of policies and laws on forests, people and wildlife. More needs to be said about the good progress by responsible forest companies, just like irregular or irresponsible practices by other companies must be flagged. Some of our key messages include, but are not be limited to: 1) illegal logging deprive people and nations of important tax revenue that result in fewer social services, 2) FSC certification is the only credible certification system available for countries in the Congo Basin, which have poor governance, 3) the best way people can influence forest management in the sub-region is to buy products from responsibly managed forests with third party verification, 4) the European Timber Regulation and Voluntary Partnership Agreements provide important momentum to reform the forest sector and to engage companies that for different reasons have not yet decided to work towards certification.