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forêt, arbres, Gabon
The Democratic Republic of Congo is home to much of the world's second largest tropical forest. But slash-and-burn farming practices and the use of energy woods expose this forest to a significant risk of deforestation and degradation. The urgent need is therefore to curb these practices while preserving a major economic activity that provides jobs and growth in a country that still suffers from poverty, particularly in rural and forestry areas.

In the DRC, AFD finances the project to support sustainable forest management (AGEDUFOR). This initiative consists in helping the public authorities to implement a sustainable forest exploitation policy by targeting more specifically the major concessions. The aim is to strengthen the expertise and governance of local authorities and to apply good practices in the protection and sustainable management of forests.  

The management of forest exploitation through structured management plans has proved its worth in the region. In Central Africa, all forest concessions are subject to a management plan. The annual net deforestation rate was stable from 1990 to 2005 at 0.06%. In Gabon, where 44% of the territory is covered by concessions, the rate of deforestation between 2000 and 2010 did not exceed 0.04% per year, as shown in the 2015 edition of the Congo Basin Forest State of the Observatoire des forêts d'Afrique Centrale (OFAC).

AFD's ambition is therefore to help the DRC implement a solid and sustainable forest policy that integrates the needs of local populations. It involves all stakeholders in the territory: private foresters, local populations, civil society organizations and public actors to create responsible governance. AFD considers that the empowerment of all these stakeholders and the strengthening of their capacities will make it possible to move towards legal, rational and more respectful practices for natural resources.

From a social point of view, the activity of forest operators has a direct impact on people's daily lives through the construction of roads, schools and clinics. Funding for community-based infrastructure and services represents between $2 and $5 per cubic metre of wood, by far the highest rate in the region.

AFD's position is unambiguous: to provide governance and management instruments to local administrations, to strengthen their capacity to use them for the sustainable protection and exploitation of forest resources.