“Forest and Trees: Serving the People of Africa and the World” was a fitting theme for the 1st IUFRO-FORNESSA Regional Congress & ITTO/AFF Forest Policy Day held at the World Agroforestry Centre in Nairobi, Kenya June 25-29. The closing ceremony held late Friday afternoon after the last of the Scientific Sessions adjourned, brought reflections of the week and outlined the importance it had for the region and its people.
Adopted from the discussions and the sessions held throughout the week, The Nairobi Resolution was read allowed to the 350+ scientists, policymakers, and forest stakeholders in attendance at the Congress. The resolution which comes a week after the Rio+20 Sustainable Dialogue on forests reinforces the commitment of African countries to “promote science, technology, innovation and traditional knowledge in order to face forests main challenge: how to turn them productive without destroying them”.
The participants of the Congress voiced 7 commitments for the future:
- Adopt people-centred approaches for forest research and education focusing on environmental, social and economic pillars;
- Further expand the scope of forest research, training and education to address issues relevant to global sustainability including land use, livelihoods and environment issues;
- Increase information sharing and knowledge management through fostering regional cooperation and networking in African forest research and providing opportunities for scientists to contribute to global issues;
- Combine traditional knowledge with formal scientific research results to design forest and tree management systems to meet local and broader societal needs at varying spatial scales;
- Develop reward systems for successful uptake and adoption of research outputs and build impact analysis in the research project design;
- Invest in science-society communication, including the training on effective communication of research findings, to improve the impact of research for all beneficiaries and improve the link between research, policy and practice; and
- Provide effective platforms for engagement of scientists, policy makers and stakeholders through national, sub-regional and regional mechanisms.
In a region that faces many obstacles using forest and trees to meet local livelihood needs while ensuring a biodiverse and environmentally sustainable landscape the resolution outlines an optimistic future for Africa – it’s forests, it’s trees and it’s people.
Read The Nairobi Resolution in its entirety at https://www.fornis.net/content/nairobi-resolution.
PDF at http://www.iufro.org/download/file/8798/3684/regcong-africa12-congress-resolution_pdf/
The IUFRO/FORNESSA Congress brought together over 300 participants from 50 plus countries – 40 of those African. For many of the participants it was the largest gathering focused on forest issues they have ever attended. With a wealth of sessions to choose from, participants were able to interact with others doing research not only in their own area but complimentary ones as well.
With the rooms full of expertise the sessions never seemed long enough, as questions, comments and discussion were bountiful. During the panel discussion of the ITTO/AFF Forest Policy Day that ran all day June 28th, a very insightful observation was stated – the knowledge sharing which happens during these events brings the level of expertise up for individuals quicker than any other means and not only does it raise the expertise level of the individual it positively affects the collective regions level. It is only in these open forums where one gains a clear picture of what and how research is being done in neighbouring countries.
Many of the younger attendees were awed at being able to meet and share their research with foremost leaders in topics and gain valuable critique and insight that is an opportunity they would not have been granted otherwise.
Congress goers have one day remaining before they head back to their respective countries and they will be bring back a souvenir which will last a lifetime – shared knowledge and improved understanding of the issues Africa’s forests, trees and people face.
After a morning of sessions filled with discussions the Congress goers donned their field clothes and headed out for an afternoon in the forest.
Karura Forest, the renowned urban forest in Nairobi was the destination of the in-Congress tour for the participants. The forest became internationally famous and a crowning achievement for conservationists in the late 90’s. There was huge pressure to clear the forest and create housing projects and the conservation community led by the late Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Wangari Maathai carried out a large public campaign to save the forest. The forest will forever be seen as a symbol of success and serve as a reminder of what a community can do when they come together to challenge land grads.
The excursion started off with a ceremonial tree planting which saw trees being planted by FORNESSA Coordinator Joseph Cobbinah and IUFRO President Niels Elers Koch with representatives from the Friends of Karura Forest – a community forest association dedicated to protecting the urban forest.
Amidst constant conversation the excursion led the large group of participants by trail to the Mau Mau Caves. As the participants continued their hike underneath the canopy of the forest they were greeted by the growing sound of music. Following the river to the waterfall an enthusiastic Kenyan choir lining the waterfall performing a traditional song and dance greeted the excursionists.
The end of the in-Congress tour also marked the end of a successful second day. Thursday is the ITTO/AFF Forest Policy Day and will see participants change their field clothes for more formal wear and head back to sessions to continue presenting and discussing their research. In the words of John, a soil scientist from Nigeria, “Tomorrow I look forward to very much, I will get to tell everyone about my research and then they will know what we have been doing and they will learn from us.”
Additional coverage at http://www.iisd.ca/ymb/forest/iufrofornessa/c1/.
The IUFRO/FORNESSA Regional Congress kicked off at the diverse and scenic World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF) in Nairobi, Kenya yesterday. This event which runs from the 25th -29th June marks the first Regional Congress in Africa, providing the opportunity for experts focused on Sub-Saharan African forest issues to come together to share and discuss the hot topics surrounding the region’s forests and trees.
The Congress opened with traditional Kenyan singers who performed for the over 300 participants coming from 40 plus African counties and over 50 countries worldwide – the largest gathering of forest experts Africa has ever seen.
The Congress is organized under the theme “Forests and Trees: Serving the People of Africa and the World” and highlights research under the following 6 themes:
1 – Forests and Climate Change
2 – Forests and Water
3 – Forest Policy, Governance and Trade
4 – Forest Biodiversity and Conservation
5 – Agro-forestry, Energy and Food Security
6 – Education, Training and Institutional Capacity Building
Integrated into the Congress is the ITTO/AFF Policy Day taking place on Thursday, June 28th, which focuses on the policy and science interface for sustainable forest management in Africa.
Scientific cooperation plays an important role in the future of African forest science and research and this premiere event serves to act as a catalyst of growth for the FORNESSA network by bridging the geographical barriers and bringing together scientists, researchers, forest managers and policy makers face-to-face- to discuss with their peers issues of paramount importance.
For official coverage of the Congress & photos from the day visit the IISD reporting services homepage at http://www.iisd.ca/ymb/forest/iufrofornessa/c1/.