New Report for Donors and Funders on Protecting and Restoring Africa’s Tropical Forest Carbon

We are delighted to announce the publication of a new report, Protecting and restoring forest carbon in tropical Africa: A guide for donors and funders, by Bernard Mercer and Jonathan Finighan (co-authors of New Philanthropy Capital’s Green Philanthropy), and Thomas Sembres and Joshua Schaefer, for the Forests Philanthropy Action Network (FPAN). This is the first detailed analysis of options for charitable foundations and trusts, philanthropists and other funders who are seeking effective ways to protect and restore Africa’s forest carbon. See below for a summary of the report’s key findings, and download information.  

About the report

Africa’s tropical forests are global climate priorities. They store more carbon than those of South-East Asia. Yet they are disappearing faster than their counterparts in Asia and Latin America. A focus on implementing forest conservation and forest restoration in tropical Africa is needed in order to avert continuing deforestation and to reverse forest degradation. The report ranges across a wide thematic canvas, providing scrutiny of the many demands on the forests of the region, including:

  • the vast need for charcoal and woodfuels in a continent where millions of people have no alternative to wood-based energy and materials;
  • analysis of forestry practices, from commercial, illegal and informal logging through to Sustainable Forest Management (SFM), plantations and community forestry;
  • the impacts of intensive and extensive forms of agriculture on forest carbon; and
  • threats and challenges posed by mining and energy extraction.

The final chapter looks at conservation and restoration interventions, concluding that these have been overlooked and under-resourced, in large part because the cultural outlook of many international institutions, governments and NGOs is still rooted in the post-war consensus that extraction of forest resources is a higher economic and social priority than forest ecosystem protection.

Download the report

For the executive summary, see key messages. The full report can be downloaded in high or low resolution, or chapter by chapter.
If you think a friend or colleague would like to read the report, please click here to forward this to them

Key Findings

  1. Improve the knowledge base for effective action to protect tropical forests. The state of knowledge on how to reduce deforestation and degradation is still very poor, and this is impeding progress (for example, on combating degradation). Donors and funders could make a long-term difference by funding research to improve data and inform action;
  2. Support timber and woodfuel plantations for African markets. Plantations dedicated to meeting the vast domestic demands in tropical Africa for timber and woodfuels could help ease pressure on forests. FPAN’s preliminary calculations, using Tanzania and Uganda as case studies, suggest that meeting national timber demand with plantations would require only 5-20 per cent of the equivalent area of natural forest; and for woodfuels, a similar exercise found that all of Kinshasa’s annual charcoal demand could be met from acacia plantations covering 410,000 hectares – about 25 per cent of the area of natural forest that would be required to grow this volume of wood every year;
  3. Ensure agricultural development in tropical Africa is carbon sensitive. Agricultural development in Africa has shot to the top of the development agenda after many years of neglect. Philanthropic dollars can help ensure that tropical African countries do not replicate the experience of widespread, commercially driven deforestation seen in some other tropical forest regions, such as the Amazon and Indonesia;
  4. Promote efficient cooking stoves. Taking improved stoves to scale could significantly reduce the total woodfuel harvest: FPAN’s preliminary calculations suggest that distributing improved stoves to Kenya’s 6 million rural households could potentially reduce fuelwood consumption by 50 per cent, saving up to 8.4 million tonnes of carbon a year;
  5. Support conservation and restoration in existing protected areas. Many existing protected areas in tropical Africa are severely under-resourced and protection is often inadequate. In the short term, they are unlikely to obtain significant additional finance from governments. Philanthropic support can increase the effectiveness of these already protected areas;
  6. Support civil society and governmental capacity building in tropical African forest protection. Many African countries have woefully underfunded forest protection agencies and civil society organisations. Donors and funders can provide critical help, through a preparedness to fund government programmes as well as NGOs;
  7. Protecting forests delivers a better outcome for forest carbon than ‘sustainable use’ options. Where logging is being practiced, Sustainable Forest Management (SFM) practices could reduce carbon emissions, compared to conventional logging. However, compared to conserving an intact forest, these practices still result in significant loss of forest carbon;
  8. Convert potential logging concessions to forest conservation and restoration areas. Over 120 million hectares of forest across six Central and West African countries could potentially be allocated as concessions to logging companies in the future, equivalent to the size of France, Germany and the UK combined. Donors and funders could play key roles by providing early stage funding for projects that seek to convert logging concessions to conservation and restoration areas.

About FPAN

FPAN is a UK registered charity founded by Nicholas Josefowitz and Bernard Mercer in 2008. It exists to encourage donors and funders to take an interest in protecting and enhancing forests; to foster informed debate on forest issues; and to produce research-based guidance for trusts, foundations and individual donors who want to support effective action on forests.

For more information, contact:
Bernard Mercer
Forests Philanthropy Action Network (FPAN)
9 Mandeville Place
London W1U 3AY
+44 (0)7710 407809

UK registered charity No: 1133645


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