Sharing Knowledge Globally: Forest Service Hosts Side Events to Share Work and Foster Climate Discussions

JULY 2022: As part of the 19th session of the Congo Basin Forest Partnership (CBFP) held in Libreville, Gabon, the U.S. Forest Service (USFS), together with CIFOR, organized two side events centered around peatlands. Ever since the confirmation of the presence of a vast expanse of peatlands in the Cuvette Central extending through the Republic of the Congo and the Democratic Republic of Congo, the global community has been multiplying efforts to increase understanding of this unique ecosystem to sustainably manage and protect them.

These side events were an opportunity to share current knowledge about the conservation and sustainable management of the Congo peatlands and the early efforts in mainstreaming peatlands in the UNFCCC framework. Panelists included representatives from the government of the DRC, the FAO, researchers from the University of Kisangani, the University of Marien Ngouabi, Michigan Tech University, Global Peatlands Initiative, Wageningen University, and CIFOR. The hybrid in-person and virtual events were attended by government decision-makers in charge of peatland management, scientists, researchers, conservation agencies, and technical and financial partners involved in the sustainable management of the Congo basin forests.

Dr. Rene Siwe (center), the USFS Country Coordinator in DRC, speaks during one of the peatland side events at the CBFP in Libreville. 

Panelists, which included Dr. Rene Siwe, the USFS country coordinator for the Democratic Republic of the Congo, exchanged on several topics around peatlands including drivers of deforestation and degradation of peatlands and measures and policies to abate the drivers, institutional and governance issues around the sustainable management and protection of peatlands, and mainstreaming peatlands into the UNFCCC framework taking into consideration specific provisions of the Paris Accord.

USFS has been working through the SilvaCarbon program to offer technical support to both Congos in peatland measurement and management. Currently, USFS is working with government partners in DRC to legally define peatlands, as there is not yet a commonly held definition. Published briefs on the legal framework for peatland management in the DRC are available here in French and English, and a brief on the definition of peatlands in DRC can be found here.

In early September 2022, Gabon hosted Africa Climate week, an event organized in preparation for COP27. The conference aimed to mobilize African countries and stakeholders to provide credible and durable responses to climate change by exploring resilience against climate risks, transitioning to a low-emission economy, and partnerships to solve pressing challenges. It also aimed to share opportunities to improve climate action as well as build consensus on climate priorities for African countries for COP27.

During the week, USFS organized a side event to showcase its support to Congo Basin countries to report GHG emissions and removals under the Enhanced Transparency Framework of the Paris Accord. Four initiatives from the region were presented, including programs focused on accounting for emissions and removals in results-based payment programs, assessing GHG emissions due to changes in land use and land cover, and strengthening the capacities of central African women in GHG Accounting.

USFS Country Coordinator in Gabon, Nelly Houtsa, speaks about the WICA program during a side event at Africa Climate Week.

Carine MILANDOU from the National Forest Inventory and Management Agency (CNIAF) in the Republic of the Congo speaks about greenhouse gas inventories in ROC.

Invited speakers included USFS partners Professor Matthew HANSEN from the University of Maryland, Carine MILANDOU from the National Forest Inventory and Management Agency (CNIAF) in the Republic of the Congo, and Franck MUKENDI from the National Forest Inventory and Management Agency (DIAF) in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Nelly Houtsa, the USFS country coordinator in Gabon, concluded the event by speaking about the Women’s Initiative for Climate Action, or WICA, a yearlong fellowship program launched in 2021 to address gender discrepancies in climate work in the region. To learn more about WICA, and to meet the 2021 fellows, please click here.

USFS works with over forty partners in Central Africa, including host country governments, universities, and local and international non-governmental organizations. Technical documents and resources, program products, and more information about our program are available on our resources and publications page. 

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