DACEFI - Community Development Alternatives to Illegal Forest Exploitation
A community forest is a clearly defined area of forest that is under the direct management of a local community. The villagers decide and implement forest-related activities collectively and share the socio-economic and ecological benefits from the forest.
Some of the main advantages of community forests include:
- Communal forest management can represent the setting stone of a well-managed local governance system, of sustainable management of natural resources, and of sustainable development in forest rural settings;
- For local populations, community forestry can represent the shift from a hunting-gathering lifestyle to sustainable forest management, involving long-term planning of logging and agroforestry practices;
- The lifestyle of forest communities can improve due to the added value of exploited wood, as well as diversified revenues from agroforestry activities;
- Illegal logging is reduced;
- Villages shift from the traditional family or lineage-based way of life towards structured community organisations, responsible for long-term collective planning and development.
As such, in 2006, WWF partnered with Liege University (Gembloux Agro Bio Tech) and Nature + in order to implement an EU-financed project called Community Development Alternatives to Illegal Forest Exploitation (DACEFI, after its acronym in French). The project targeted local communities in Gabon and Cameroon, aiming to accompany them in all stages of the process to acquire and manage a community forest. DACEFI equally lobbied and supported relevant authorities in the attempt to create and implement an enabling legislative environment for community forestry, which is a relatively new concept in the Congo Basin.
Given the link between biodiversity conservation and local development, the project concentrated mainly around protected areas (Minkébé National Park and Lopé National Park in Gabon, respectively Dja Reserve in Cameroon).
Main achievements include:
- Over 100 villages sensitised about community forestry;
- 800 villagers trained in community forestry;
- 16 villages accompanied towards creating CFs;
- 4 CFs created and 9 CFs delineated;
- Over 10,000 plants and over 6,000 banana trees planted;
- 3 contracts signed between community associations and logging companies;
- Specific legislation regarding community forestry drafted and currently implemented;
- Over 100 training sessions on community forestry conducted for relevant authorities;
- 180 maps and 114 publications produced;
- Over 1,000 students trained in environmental issues.
- 50 ministry representatives and 8 NGOs trained in the procedures regarding the attribution and management of CFs;
- Hundreds of local people sensitised in the procedures regarding the attribution and management of CFs;
- Representatives of 24 communities trained in how to draft Simple Management Plans (SMP) for CFs; representatives of 34 communities trained in accounting and financial management;
- Over 80 people from various communities trained in how to conduct forest inventories;
- Grants made available to several communities for the purchase of saws and accessories for community forest companies.