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World Bank

West Africa Forest Strategy

The Upper Guinea Forest, which covers six West African nations, is being severely threatened by commercial logging, slash-and-burn and plantation agriculture, weak governance, industrial-scale mining, and unsustainable bushmeat hunting.  Civil conflict adds a further strain when refugees turn to the forests for shelter and firewood.

At the same time, growing national interest in climate change and forest governance trade initiatives (REDD+, FLEGT) is encouraging radical re-thinking in fields such as timber supply and tree and land tenure. The importance of agriculture, energy security and mining to national growth strategies also has implications for forests, both positive and negative.

Development partners have the opportunity to generalize good practices and build regional capacity to confront the coming challenges in the West-Africa sub-region.

PROFOR supported an effort to analyze the forests sector in five countries (Cote d’Ivoire, Ghana, Guinea (Conakry), Liberia and Sierra Leone) and define elements toward an effective West African forests strategy to ensure conservation and sustainable use of forests, the maintenance of forest ecosystem services, and the fair and equitable allocation of revenues and benefits from forest resources.

"Toward a West African Forests Strategy" was published in draft form in April 2011. It is based on five country studies and a synthesis of regional forests sector issues. Elements from this draft strategy will inform the World Bank's future work on forests for Africa and should be helpful to a variety of development partners and forest stakeholders in defining priority areas of support.

Among the country level issues which could benefit from policy support, the report singles out: 

  • restructuring of forest industry to promote value addition and foster economic growth;
  • improving forest governance and public finance management;
  • balancing supply and demand issues in export and domestic markets and addressing the issue of ‘illegal’ chainsaw logging;
  • support for small and medium forest enterprises and community forestry;
  • reforming tree and land tenure so as to favour forest conservation and regeneration;
  • reforming revenue sharing arrangements and channelling these so that these provide incentives to farmers and land owners; 
  • integrating REDD+ and other climate actions into forest policy;
  • and improving the sustainability of rural energy (wood fuel & charcoal).

Some of the  primarily sub-regional issues identified in the strategy include:

  • improving the governance of cross border trade in a context of FLEGT, and helping to harmonize sub-regional trade policies; 
  • enhancing the geographical information and forest inventory data available for sub-regional policy making and trade controls;
  • institutional capacity building to support sub-regional policy coherence;
  • investing in the cross-border dimensions of protected area management;
  • and developing awareness of the extra-sectoral implications of forest policies across the sub-region.



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Author : World Bank
Last Updated : 02-24-2017