SilvaCarbon Profile: Meet Chief Kondjo

SilvaCarbon is an interagency technical cooperation program of the U.S. Government to enhance the capacity of selected tropical countries to measure, monitor, and report carbon in forests and other lands. Drawing on the expertise of multiple U.S. Government agencies and partners, the program provides targeted technical support to countries in the process of developing and implementing national forest and landscape monitoring systems.

The primary objective of SilvaCarbon is to advance the generation and use of improved information related to forest and terrestrial carbon. In Central Africa, the U.S. Forest Service currently implements SilvaCarbon activities in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the Republic of the Congo, Cameroon and Gabon. SilvaCarbon’s broader program works with twenty-three countries across Africa, Asia, and Latin America and the Caribbean.

In the Democratic Republic of the Congo, USFS has been implementing SilvaCabon activities since 2014. Activities here often take the form of high-level trainings with technicians in the Department of Forest Inventory and Zoning (DIAF). Long-term relationships with in-country partners are an essential part of making SilvaCarbon successful, and this series will introduce SilvaCarbon partners from around the Central Africa Region. This week, we meet André Shoko Kondjo.

Chief Kondjo addresses DIAF colleagues, U.S. Forest Service experts, and USAID representatives at a recent National Forest Inventory training. Photo courtesy of Olivia Freeman​, U.S. Forest Service International Programs.

Name: André Shoko KONDJO

Current Job: Head of the Forest Inventory Division at DIAF

What do you do in your spare time? In my spare time I enjoy reading, and I am involved in community development in my neighborhood.

If you could give one piece of advice to young professionals in your field, what would it be? Do not stop studying, reading, and learning. Avoid making life easy! This is a way of life that I teach both my children and the technicians in my division. That’s what they affectionately call me Papa.

Chief Kondjo (front row, third from left) poses with colleagues at the 13th session of the National Steering Committee for Forest Zoning (CNPZ) in Kinshasa. Photo courtesy of Olivia Freeman, U.S. Forest Service International Programs.

Chief Kondjo started his career at DIAF in 1978, working his way up from Photo Interpreter to Head of the Forest Inventory Division. The Democratic Republic of the Congo’s forest resources are immense, covering over 900,000 square miles, which is about 60% of the country itself, making the challenge of developing a National Forest Inventory even greater. As more is learned about these vast and often difficult-to-access forests, DIAF must adapt and evolve to tackle new challenges and incorporate new technical skills and knowledge into their work. While funding is often scarce for this type of work, the SilvaCarbon program has been able to support Kondjo and his colleagues to be able to meet with, learn from, and collaborate with specialized experts from around the world.

Over his career, Kondjo has participated in various SilvaCarbon trainings, ranging in topic including soil analysis methodology, micro and macro zoning, wetland forest and peatland sampling techniques, and the development of allometric equations. Trainings take place in the lab as well as in the field in order for experts from DIAF to be able to adapt methodologies used around the world to best serve the country’s specific needs and challenges.

Watch below to see DIAF technicians in the field

Over the years Kondjo has watched the department grow and evolve, and his love for his country and the future of its forests drives his work. Over the next five years, he wants to continue the department’s forest inventory work as well as develop the soil map of the country and create detailed maps of peatland areas. The development of these maps and the finalization of the National Forest Inventory will not only help DIAF to better understand the Congo Basin forests but will also serve to help the DRC, and the wider Central Africa region, to preserve and protect their valuable forest resources.

The SilvaCarbon Central Africa program supports national forest monitoring and inventory efforts in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the Republic of the Congo, and Cameroon. Due to its vast and bio-diverse forested areas, Central Africa is widely recognized as a global priority for sustainable forest management. U.S. Government agencies implementing SilvaCarbon activities in Central Africa include the U.S. Forest Service and the U.S. Geological Survey, which work in collaboration with a number of other partner institutions. To learn more about SilvaCarbon, please click here.

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