The forests of the Congo Basin, the second largest rainforest in the world, are an essential resource providing food, shelter and livelihoods for over 50 million people. Covering 200 million hectares and including approximately one fifth of the world’s remaining closed canopy tropical forest, they are also a very significant carbon with a vital role in regulating the regional climate; and harbour biodiversity of global importance.
Until recently the Congo Basin forests have contributed a relatively small amount of the total emissions from land-use change (about 4% of all such emissions from the tropics in the 1980s) with less than 1% of the forest disappearing each year. However, logging, shifting agriculture, population growth and the oil and mining industries are all putting more pressure on the forest and this figure is likely to grow if the wrong policy options are pursued. If action is not taken now, the Congo Basin forest will be destroyed as other forests have been, with devastating effects on the climate and with countless species driven to extinction.
The future of forests in the Congo Basin depends on the ability of the governments, NGO partners, the private sector and the International Community to work together to ensure priority treatment of the forest while achieving sustainable economic development and alleviating poverty.
The Congo Basin Forest Fund (CBFF) is a multi donor fund set up to take early action to protect the forests in the Congo Basin region. The Fund invites proposals for transformative and innovative initiatives from the governments and civil society and private sector of the Congo Basin to slow the rate of deforestation, through developing the capacity of the people and institutions in the countries of the Congo basin to manage their forest. This includes helping local communities find livelihoods that are consistent with forest conservation and developing innovative and transformative approaches to sustainable forest management.
The Fund will support activities which complement particular aspects of the COMIFAC (The Central Africa Forests Commission) convergence plan. It will work closely with Central African governments and other stakeholders. The Fund will be run by a Governing Council chaired by Professor Wangari Maathai and the Rt. Hon. Paul Martin; and managed and disbursed by a Secretariat based at the African Development Bank (AfDB). The Fund is initially being financed by a grant of £100 million from the British and Norwegian Governments.