The illegal cutting of wood, so decaped by environmental advocates, is a scourge that halts efforts to combat global warming. For the purpose of eradicating this phenomenon, for the first time, researchers are joining to analyse Africa's forest policies. The results of the reflections will be published to the attention of the decision makers of the continent. But already, it is advisable to take measures to stop the illegal cutting of wood.
According to Julien Chongwang of the scidev.net information site, 71% of the timber from the Congo came from the illegal cut. This puts this country at the forefront of the world's most affected Nations by the illegal logging of timber and exposes it to the consequences of this practice on climate change.
This is the revelation of a study whose results were made public on 26 September 2018 on the occasion of the very first edition of the African forest policy Conference (Aforpolis-African forestry policies and politics), which was held from 24 to 27 September in Yaoundé (Cameroon), at the initiative of IUFRO (International Union of forest research organizations-International Union of forest research institutes.)
This study, presented by Serge Mandiefe Piabuo, researcher at the World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF-World Agroforestry Centre), focused on the impact of illegal timber logging on climate change through the cases of timber-producing countries in the Congo and Asia basin.
"When you cut the wood, you have to replace it. That's why we encourage legal cutting. Because, in the illegal cut, this precaution is not taken, said Mandiefe Piabuo, researcher at ICRAF.
"From the point of view of sustainable development, when you cut the wood, you have to replace it. That's why we encourage legal cutting. Because, in the illegal cut, this precaution is not taken, explains the researcher.
However, he says, the loss or reduction of forest cover is accompanied by a loss of environmental services.
"The capacity of forest carbon sequestration is greatly reduced due to illegal slaughter," concludes Serge Mandiefe Piabuo.
The increase in the use of wood in the construction of houses
However, in order to preserve the forest cover, all participants agree that there is no question of stopping the exploitation of timber, since man will always need it, for example for construction.
Hence the insistence of Martin Tchamba, head of the Forestry Department at the University of Dschang (Cameroon): "the legal logging that is made on landscaped areas has rather environmental, social and even economic benefits" Explain.
This is also the meaning of another study conducted by Martin Claude Ngueho Yemele, Université Laval (Canada), entitled "using wood to mitigate climate change in Africa: lessons learned from Quebec policy experiences" ("use of wood to mitigate climate change in Africa: lessons learned from Quebec's experiences ".)
Presented at this Conference by Christophe Ndongmo, the study shares the experience of Quebec which, from 2008, launched a whole program of wood use for construction, with among the objectives, the increase in the use of wood in the construction of houses, the reduction of greenhouse gases and the production of quality wooden objects.
According to this study, a recent evaluation of this program showed that in ten years, the proportion of buildings with wooden structure increased from 15% to 28%.
This work finally reveals that in order to ensure the success of this initiative, the Quebec Government had preached by example, adopting a Charter recommending the use of timber in the construction of municipal buildings.
In Cameroon, the local timber market is being refuelled by community forests
"Through this Conference, we are throwing for the first time a fairly precise look at the State of the forest issue across Africa from the perspective of the social sciences," says Symphorien Ongolo, teacher and researcher at the University of Göttingen (Germany).
Questioned by SciDev.Net, who is also the main organizer of the Yaoundé Conference, says that the scientific knowledge from this Conference will be published in a special issue of the journal forests policy and Economics and policymakers can be inspired.
Especially since the situation of illegal timber cuts is less serious elsewhere than in the Congo, it remains a concern in a number of countries on the continent.
Indeed, the share of illegal timber is estimated at 59% in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), 27% in Cameroon, 28% in Ghana, compared with only 5% in Brazil.
"These rates reflect the ability of policies to enforce forest governance rules. On this point, Cameroon has evolved a great deal, notably with the signing of the APV-FLEGT, a voluntary partnership agreement between Cameroon and the European Union, to control the legality and traceability of timber, says Serge Mandiefe Piabuo of ICRAF.
"In Cameroon, the local timber market is being refuelled by community forests; This allows people to participate in the management of our natural resources, "says Roger Bruno Tabue Mbobda, head of the research unit and environmental monitoring at the Dja Biosphere Reserve (Cameroon).
The high rate of illegal cuts
Nevertheless, there are still significant difficulties: "poachers destroy the forest by cutting young trees to build their settlements. The eco-guards responsible for combating poaching are amplifying this phenomenon, by setting fire to these camps, "reports this researcher.
"It is an ongoing process; because, as the camps are destroyed, the poachers are rebuilding them, "regrets Roger Bruno Tabue Mbobda.
Referring to the situation of his country, Eliezer Majambu, a student at the University of Kisangani and representative of the DRC at the Conference, believes that "forests degrade because the people who live all around depend only on those forests that are for them a source of income ".
"The high rate of illegal cuts in our country is due to the fact that the forest sector is barely getting organized with the accompanying texts of the forest code that have just been published," he explains.
"Such conferences should be multiplied and I invite Congolese researchers to participate more because the forest issue mobilizes many issues," concludes Eliezer Majambu.