Brazil Hosts Gabonese Delegation to Foster Knowledge Exchange on Sustainable Forest Management

Photo by Kevin Gonzalez, U.S. Forest Service International Programs.

Around the world, governments are working independently to address environmental challenges and find ways to balance our need for natural resources with sustainable management practices. While regional knowledge sharing is fairly common, opportunities for global collaboration and shared insights are often limited.

The Amazon Rainforest and Congo Basin stand out as the world’s two largest rainforests, playing a crucial role in the global ecosystem and profoundly impacting our climate. These expansive forested regions are not only pivotal in combating climate change by absorbing substantial amounts of carbon dioxide but are also home to communities that rely heavily on these ecosystems for their livelihoods.

Learning about the sustainable forest management practices at the Flona de Altamira concession, held by Patauá Florestal, an entity created by local entrepreneurs in the region. Photo by Kevin Gonzalez, U.S. Forest Service International Programs.

Despite their immense importance, these forests face a range of threats. In the pursuit of effective solutions to the challenges facing the world’s vital rainforests, forest and environmental experts from Brazil welcomed Gabonese counterparts for a weeklong study tour, where they were able to exchange knowledge and experiences and see first-hand the work being done on sustainable forest management in the country.

In mid-July 2023, staff from the MMA/Brazilian Forest Service (Ministry of Environment and Climate Change), the Brazilian Institute for the Environment and Renewable Natural Resources (IBAMA), and the Chico Mendes Institute for Biodiversity Conservation (ICMBio) welcomed a delegation of 9 experts from Gabon’s Ministry of Water and Forests, the Sea and the Environment for a dynamic knowledge exchange on sustainable forest management. The Brazilians brought their Gabonese counterparts on a comprehensive journey through the Amazon, Brasília, and São Paulo regions. Together, they delved into Brazil’s forestry concession program, exploring technical, administrative, and legal aspects, as well as control systems for timber and non-timber products.

Dr. Inès Nelly Moussavou, Director of Studies at National Forestry School (ENEF), and Anasthasie Mounanga, Studies Officer at the Ministry of Water, Forests, Sea and Environment in charge of Climate Plan and Land Use Plan, posing with handcrafted wood products produced by Cooperativa Mista da Floresta Nacional do Tapajós (COOMFLONA), a community forest cooperative. Photo by Kevin Gonzalez, U.S. Forest Service International Programs.

The immersive study tour kicked off at the Brazilian Forest Service, where institutional partners shared insight on forest monitoring and regularization and financial incentives in forest certification. Following the visit to the Brazilian Forest Service, the delegation visited the Forest Products Laboratory and IBAMA, where they were introduced to the SINAFLOR+ system, an anti-fraud system established in 2014 that registers and controls the origin and circulation of wood, charcoal, and other forest products. Field visits to the Tapajós National Forest and the Altamira National Forest followed, providing hands-on insights into sustainable forest management practices and community forestry. The exchange program culminated in São Paulo, where the Institute of Technological Research (IPT) showcased its cutting-edge research initiatives, with an emphasis on wood technology.

The visit of the Gabonese delegation underscores the importance of international cooperation in forest conservation and sustainable natural resource management. It was a unique opportunity for experts in Brazil and Gabon to build working relationships and continue to share their challenges and successes in their pursuit of sustainable forest management. Through their combined efforts, these two nations have substantial roles to play in preserving natural resources and addressing climate change worldwide. This partnership not only highlights the value of global collaboration but also underscores the potential for mutual learning and positive impacts on the protection of our planet’s vital rainforest ecosystems.

At the Wood Products Laboratory of the Brazilian Forest Service learning about methodologies for testing and use of wood by products. Photo by Comunicação / SFB.

This study tour was supported by USAID’s Central Africa Regional Program for the Environment (CARPE). The U.S. Forest Service is also working with the Gabonese government and the U.S. Department of Justice to increase the capacity of government ministries, law enforcement, and forestry officials to combat illegal logging. These programs are supported by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs (OES), USAID, and the Department of State’s Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement (INL).

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