Central African Republic
Central African Republic started VPA negotiations in 2009. The aim of the VPA is to improve forest sector governance by clarifying and simplifying management rules, ensuring increased transparency and use of public information, and respecting the rights of indigenous peoples and local resources. The VPA entered into force on 1 July 2012.
Latest VPA update:
A large part of the Central African Republic (CAR) is still controlled by armed militias. Instability plagues its capital, Bangui, particularly in the Muslim quarters, largely due to rampant criminality rather than sectarian and community violence. Despite the lingering insecurity, national growth has picked up and the economy is slowly recovering. According to the International Monetary Fund, this should help to accelerate governance reforms, which in turn will hopefully benefit all citizens.
The VPA structures are working to implement decisions from the last meeting of the Joint Implementation Committee (JIC), in May 2018. VPA stakeholders are keen to see progress on the recommendations on independent forest monitoring, led by civil society, and for the administration to tackle persistent breaches of forest legislation by logging companies that fail to pay taxes to communal authorities who are in dire need so that these can provide basic services to impoverished communities. CSOs would also like to see more rapid progress on the creation of community forest pilots in the Bayanga and Moloukou areas, to boost local livelihoods and halt forest destruction fuelled by illegal logging.
The government is increasingly sharing civil society’s vision of how local communities can be involved in forest management. Following a mission from the Projet de Développement Régional du Sud-Ouest, a donor-funded development scheme to revitalise forested areas, the project recommended that the Forest Ministry set up a permanent framework for consultation on community forestry, and adapt the national legislation to strengthen local livelihoods and halt forest degradation. This spirit of dialogue is already evident through participation of the Gestion des Ressources Naturelles et de l’Environnement (GDRNE) in ongoing land reform and development of the forest policy.
Representatives from local communities in VPA structures are taking a more prominent role in monitoring forest illegalities and claiming their rights. Thanks to increased communication work by the GDRNE platform, communities living near the Centrabois forest concession in the Lobaye area have asked for access to unused wood for building houses and other social facilities. This is an example of how improved access to information and increased community participation is having a positive impact on local livelihoods.
Transparency has (somewhat) improved, at least in some areas: The website www.apvrca.org now carries information on all logging permits.
While this is progress, civil society believes it is important to also publish other crucial information – for instance, concerning company revenues that should go to communities, and export volumes – so that stakeholders have a better understanding of the forest sector. This will also ensure that CAR meets its commitments to include financial flows from the timber sector under the Extractives Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI), and the overarching constitutional requirements on transparent management of the country’s natural resources.
It is important that these transparency advances be mirrored also in the REDD+ process as CAR begins to develop its national REDD+ strategy and identify mitigation objectives at landscape and community level, because these will necessarily interact with VPA objectives. It is more efficient to coordinate them at the outset rather than address difficulties downstream.
Last updated in December 2018.
A brief history of VPA so far, from a civil society perspective
The local civil society platform is the Plateforme pour la Gestion Durable des Ressources Naturelles et de l’Environnement, (GDRNE). The GDRNE platform is an important driving force for the VPA. They work on important issues such as community consultation, compensation for damage and the role of civil society versus the forest administration in monitoring law enforcement. They also train communities in how to denounce illegalities.
GDRNE is looking at civil society’s role in forest monitoring how to ensure direct participation of community and indigenous people representatives in the VPA structures.
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