Strategic Planning Workshop of Model Forests (MFs) under construction in the DRC: A Major Step Towards their Validation
Strategic Planning Workshop of MFs under construction in the DRC: a Major Step towards their Validation
By: Gabriel Sarasin, Mélie Monnerat, Jean-Claude Njomkap, Joachim Nguiebouri & Dr. Chimère Diaw (Secretary of the African Network of Model Forests)
One of the conference hall of the Nyoki building (former FORESCOM) which hosts the Directorate of Forest Inventory and Development (DIAF) and the General Directorate of Forests (DGF) of the Ministry of Environment, Conservation of Nature and Tourism (MECNT), served as venue for the holding from 18 to 26 January 2012 in Kinshasa, of the Strategic Planning Workshop of Model Forests in Construction of the DRC. The workshop was organized by the National Coordination of SFRAM (African Network of Model Forests) in the RDC, with the technical support of DIAF, UICN, VSO and SRFAM Secretariat based in Yaoundé, Cameroon. The managing Director of SRFAM Secretariat, Dr Chimère Diaw, supported the strategic planning approach of sites under construction in the DRC by a one-week mission in Kinshasa. He thus could discuss with participants and advise them, hold a series of meetings with MF strategic partners in the Congo Basin, including the private sector, and support the launching of MFs in the DRC.
In order to support the sites under construction and facilitate the promotion of Model Forests Network in the DRC, SRFAM Secretariat opened an extension in Kinshasa which is called SRFAM-RDC National Coordination. This National Coordination is steered by Mrs Mélie Monnerat, and supported by a MF National Focal Point, Mr. Sébastien Malélé, DIAF Director, appointed by the MECNT and a newcomer, Mrs Orit Adus Ahmed, administrator.
Led by senior staff of SRFAM Secretariat and experts from different institutions, the workshop gathered, apart from representatives of the three Model Forests under construction in the DRC (Mayombe, Lake Tumba and Nord-Kivu), Model Forest strategic actors, such as traditional rulers, representatives of Indigenous people and NGOs, with the active participation of Nouvelles Frontières, whose activities are based in Mbandaka. Participants attended several training sessions delivered by partner organizations such as the support project to the Training in the Management of Natural Resources-Laval University and FASA, Kinshasa University, REDD National Coordination, REPALEAC (Network of Indigenous and Local People for the Sustainable Management of Forest Ecosystems in Central Africa), UICN (International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources) and the Division of Community Forestry of DGF.
The workshop aimed at establishing an encouraging and constructive framework for the ownership of MF process so that each of the sites under construction would result in a road map aiming at transforming Model Forests currently under construction into full and functioning MFs in the Bas-Congo, Équateur and Nord-Kivu provinces. The underlying objective was to create a networking synergy between the three DRC Model Forests, as well as between them and the African Network of Model Forests whose Secretariat is based in Yaoundé. Alongside the meeting, federative and development projects were launched for the consolidation of Model Forests. Such projects shall be examined in view of their presentation to donors.
Towards “Applicant” Model Forests
Given their current status of Model Forest under construction, each site should carry out a rigorous and detailed planning over time and space, their validation strategies, in order to be appointed “applicant" Model Forests. Getting this status shall enable Model Forests in the DRC to benefit from the same advantages than SRFAM and RIFM MF members. In order to be valid, the application of each Model Forest under construction should be presented by SRFAM and RIFM by the Ministry in charge of Forests, i.e. MECNT. After two years, an “applicant” Model Forest becomes a full SRFAM member. The following steps are crucial for the validation of a Model Forest application:
Voluntary participation and commitment of stakeholders in the MF process;
- Landscape biophysical and socioeconomic diagnosis;
- Adoption of MF statute and legal texts;
- Building of the governance structure;
- Development of the common vision and priorities by stakeholders;
- Development and validation of the multiannual strategic plan in order to achieve this common vision;
- Development of income-generating projects at local level;
- Submission of application to the ministry;
- Submission of application by the government of the DRC to SRFAM and RIFM.
At the end of this workshop, the three MF sites under construction drew their detailed road map, and defined activities expected to lead to their validation by July 2012. However, the planned vision at this workshop was not only limited to the validation of sites under construction but went beyond as far as time and space are concerned. In fact, proposals of federative projects were also developed by each site and a training was provided on the management of REDD+ projects, given that two of the MFs are positioned in REDD and MDP pilot projects.
A Collective Regional-Scale Learning Approach
This workshop which gathered over twenty participants from the four provinces of the DRC (Kinshasa, Équateur, Mayombe and Nord-Kivu), Cameroon and Canada, was a unique occasion to share knowledge and experience. It was a sharing and learning opportunity from Cameroon MFs in view of their consideration in the Congolese process on the one hand, as well as a unique occasion for MFs under construction to connect to and learn from one another, and to hatch and share innovative ideas in the regional and national perspective on the other hand. Finally, each site prepared, during the workshop, a standardized PowerPoint presentation, giving a descriptive overview of the site, the history of its constitution, its state of progress in the MF process and its road map towards validation. These presentations were welcome by participants at the MF launching workshop in the DRC, held under MCENT patronage.
Communications at the Workshop
- The collaboration agreement signed between SRFAM and MCENT;
- Lessons learnt from the Cameroonian process;
- Projects and innovations within SRFAM;
- The situation of each MF under construction in the DRC;
- Work done by trainees from UNIKIN Faculty of Agricultural Sciences, Forestry Field, in MFs under construction in the DRC;
- REDD+ project management;
- Mycorhizes in MFs;
- The Network of Indigenous and Local People for the Sustainable Management of Forest Resources in Central Africa (REPALEAC);
- The partnership between SFRAM and VSO (Voluntary Service Overseas);
- Priority activities to be implemented for the validation of MFs under construction;
- Financial management following the standards of Natural Resources Canada;
- Communication strategy for environmental media in the DRC.
Active Involvement of Forest Relay in the DRC
Five graduating students from the Forestry department of Kinshasa University, supported by the FOGRN-BC project, attended these discussions. Selected based on a rigorous approach, these students did their three-month professional internship in the MFs under construction (Mayombe, Lake Tumba and Nord-Kivu), with the financial support of Natural Resources Canada, via IFMA (initiative for a Model Forest Network in Africa). Apart from the presentation of their internship report, these students also attended deliberations at the workshop, especially concerning the strategic planning of the road map of MFs under construction in the DRC. Their internship reports and thesis are highly expected on the websites of the MFs and SRFAM Secretariat.
@RAFM – Top to bottom
Fig. 1. Participants at the workshop
Fig. 2. Director Malélé offering a map of the DIAF developed by WRI to the leaders of the MFs under construction
Fig. 3. Mrs Mato, of SRFAM Secretariat, explaining the structure of Campo-Ma’an (Cameroon) MF rural women platform
Fig. 4. The representative of REDD National Coordination in the DRC training participants in the management of REDD+ projects
Fig. 5. The trainee posted to the Nord-Kivu MF presenting her results to participants