Comprehensive knowledge of forest ecosystems promotes better conservation and adequate protection as well as the management and enhancement of its biodiversity. The Congo Basin sub-region harbors the second-largest tropical rainforest formation in the world and covers over two million km² 
. As one of the major reservoirs of biodiversity (half of the world’s tropical forests), it requires skilled human resources to ensure its sustainable management. The forest-environment sector is currently facing a lack of harmonization between training and required employment skills, which causes difficulty for stakeholders when planning to implement development plans for industrialization aimed at the further processing of raw materials.
The findings of the study conducted by the International Tropical Timber Organization (ITTO) in five countries of the Congo Basin in 2007 reported a lack of skilled management-level personnel required for sustainable forest management. In view of the major issue that constitutes biodiversity preservation, the ITTO Secretariat and the Convention on Biological Diversity (CDB) Secretariat decided to extend support to the Central Africa Forestry and Environment Training Institutions Network (RIFFEAC), in connection with the implementation of a sub-regional project aimed at significantly addressing the lack of management-level staff in forestry.
RIFFEAC is a platform composed of twenty-two forestry and environment training institutions distributed across nine African countries. RIFFEAC serves as the technical partner for the Central Africa Forest Commission (COMIFAC) with regard to the implementation of the training and research-related strategic component of the COMIFAC Convergence Plan. This component is the reference tool in the sub-regional policy for the sustainable management of Central African forests.
Through project PD 456/07
and its core thematic pillars, ITTO enabled the development of reference training modules appropriate for the sustainable management of tropical forests. For operationalizing training modules, ITTO provided equipment and infrastructure to seven forestry and environment training institutions distributed across five countries in the Congo Basin. Provided equipment and infrastructure should facilitate the implementation of the reference training modules in forest management in the sub-region, with the aim of training skilled management-level forestry personnel which will be responsible for implementing sustainable forest management (SFM) while reconciling biodiversity conservation and the well-being of local communities.
During the international conference, the participants representing a diversity of stakeholders will evaluate progress achieved in the field of training, with the noble aim of sustainably managing the Congo Basin forests.
In particular, the Conference will:
- Highlight harmonized modules and programs with a view to optimizing forestry training
- Promote the sharing of experiences and lessons learned through mainstreaming the new modules in the training programs;
- Determine priority actions and measures necessary for appropriately addressing issues posed by forestry training in the sub-region;
- Establish new partnerships or build up existing ones for improving training, i.e., harmonizing training with required employment skills, with a view to the sustainable management of the forest-environment sector and its change towards the further processing of raw materials.
Discussions and consultations conducted during the Conference will lead to the following outcomes for the stakeholders in the long term:
- Enhanced awareness of importance, threats, and opportunities associated with forestry and environment training in the sub-region;
- Improved knowledge and mainstreaming of reference training modules in training programs;
- Improved ability of RIFFEAC member institutions to solve issues posed by forestry training and to draw on opportunities such issues may provide;
- Better support of reference training modules implementation across training institutions in the sub-region;
Consolidated strategic alliances and partnerships for the benefit of RIFFEAC institutions.
Marie Joannidis (2010). Une réunion pour sauver les poumons de la planète.