African Forestry and Wildlife Commission Aims to Address Food Security and Climate Change

The African Forestry and Wildlife Commission of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) is convening in Arusha, United Republic of Tanzania, this week to deliberate on how the sustainable management of the region’s forests and wildlife can enhance food security and bolster climate change resilience for the betterment of livelihoods.

The 24th Session of the Commission, taking place from October 30 to November 3, brings together government officials and representatives from international organizations, civil society, and the private sector to coordinate efforts regarding Africa’s forests. This is particularly crucial due to increasing pressures from a rapidly growing and more urbanized global population, as well as the effects of rising global temperatures.

During this session, critical issues to be addressed include financing for the sustainable management of forests and wildlife, strategies for restoration to enhance climate change resilience, and methods for combatting deforestation and the illicit exploitation and trade of forest wildlife products.

Africa experienced the highest annual rate of net forest loss between 2010 and 2020, shedding 3.9 million hectares of forest each year. Alarmingly, less than 25 percent of African forests have management plans, according to the FAO’s Global Forest Resources Assessment 2020. Moreover, more than 40 percent of the region’s primary energy supply is derived from wood fuel.

Edward Kilawe, FAO Forestry Officer and the Commission’s Secretary, emphasized the urgent need for concrete efforts to harness Africa’s forests’ potential in the fight against climate change, food security, and sustainable community livelihoods through enhanced efficiency, sustainable forest management, restoration, and afforestation of degraded lands.

One pressing issue on the agenda is wildfires, which are increasingly impacting communities, economies, and the environment. The Session will discuss integrated fire management, an approach recommended by FAO to significantly reduce the risk and impact of wildfires.

Sustainable wildlife management will also be a central focus, including a review of the accomplishments of the Sustainable Wildlife Management Programme towards its goal of enhancing wildlife and ecosystem conservation and improving the livelihoods and food security of communities reliant on these resources.

Heads of forestry and wildlife will engage in dialogues regarding forest policy, governance, and the wildlife trade.

Delegates will explore ways to strengthen advocacy for forests and wildlife and promote their sustainable utilization and management through educational programs and the advancement of related professions. They will also discuss developmental areas such as beekeeping.

This hybrid meeting is occurring concurrently with the Eighth African Forestry and Wildlife Week (AFWW8).

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