Thinking beyond the canopy

Discussion forum 4. A review of the role of regional institutions and international instruments in forest management of the Congo Basin

Focal Point: Samuel Assembe Mvondo
Organisation(s): CIFOR
Contact details: CIFOR, Central Africa Regional Office, P.O. Box: 2008, Yaoundé, Cameroon; Tel: +237 22 22 74 51 / 22 22 74 49; Email:


Legal, policy and institutional frameworks are important factors in setting the stage for sustainable forest management. Under this perspective, positive changes in legal and policy frameworks are evident in the Central Africa region. In fact, signs indicate political commitments towards sustainable forest management in the majority of ten Member States of COMIFAC, notably with the creation of many regional institutions in charge of forests (COMIFAC, CBFP, CEFDHAC, REPAR, RAPAC, etc). Twenty years after the UNCED Rio Summit, most countries in Central Africa have enacted new and more progressive forest policies and legislations. However, critical issues concerning mismanagement and poor governance in the forest sector remain real concerns. For example, different sectorial laws are built independently and sometimes contradict while ongoing debates question the robustness of existing laws. Therefore, much remains to be done to incorporate climate change, illegal practices, land use competition and planning and monitoring in the legal provisions. More international coordination is needed, including with relevant institutions in major importing countries such as China.

Key questions the panel will address

  1. What are the main international / regional institutions in forest management that have nourished policies and legal frameworks in Congo Basin countries?
  2. How have these impacts materialised in legal provisions and institutional settings?
  3. How can COMIFAC countries overcome the current forest challenges and shortcomings in their policies and legal framework?
  4. How can regional institutions connect better with their counterparts in large timber markets, such as China, to promote better forest management in the Congo Basin?


  1. Keynote speaker: Patrice Bigombe Logo, Independent Observer
  2. Respondent: Raymond Mbitikon, Executive Secretary of COMIFAC
  3. Respondent: Donatien Nzala, Director General of Forest Economics, Ministry of Forest Economics, DRC
  4. Respondent: Samuel Makon, GIZ
  5. Respondent: Robinson Djeukam, Former Director, Global Witness, Cameroon Moderator: Prudence Galega, Adviser, Ministry of Environment, Cameroon

Background reading

  1. Assembe-Mvondo S. 2009. Sustainable Forest Management Practice in Central African States and Customary Law. International Journal of Sustainable Development & World Ecology. 16:217-227.
  2. CBFP. 2006. The Forest of Congo Basin: State of the Forest 2006.
  3. de Wasseige C., Devers D., de Marcken P., Eba’ a atyi R., Nasi R. and Mayaux P. 2009. The Forest of Congo Basin: State of the Forest 2008.
  4. de Wasseige C., Bayol N., Hiol Hiol F., Mayaux P., Desclée B., Nasi R., Biland A., de Fourny P. and Eba’a Atiyi R. 2012. The Forest of Congo Basin: State of the Forest 2010.
  5. Rayner J., Buck A and Katila P. (eds). 2010. Embracing Complexity: Meeting the Challenges of International Forest Governance. IUFRO World Series: Vienna.
  6. Putzel L., Assembe Mvondo S., Ndong L.B.B., Baniguila R.P., Cerutti P.O., Tieguhong J.C., Djeukam R., Kabuyaya N., Lescuyer G. and Mala W.A. 2011. Chinese trade and investment and the forests of the Congo Basin: Synthesis of scooping studies in Cameroon, Democratic Republic of Congo and Gabon. CIFOR: Bogor, Indonesia.