Brazzaville, Republic of Congo – The Biodiversity and Protected Areas Management Programme (BIOPAMA), has launched a regional Observatory for biodiversity and protected areas in Central Africa, with OFAC (Observatory for Central African Forests) as the host organisation, based in Yaounde, Cameroon.
The EU-ACP funded BIOPAMA initiative aims to provide a better understanding of the trends and threats to protected areas in Central Africa in order to support better decision-making to improve the management of protected areas. It is jointly implemented by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and the European Commission's Joint Research Centre (JRC), in collaboration with the Observatory for Central African Forests (OFAC).
The Regional Observatory will contribute to the collation and sharing of relevant data and information on protected areas in Central Africa and provide support on decision-making processes to governments across the region.
The 14th meeting of the CBFP (Congo Basin Forest Partnership), that recently took place in Brazzaville, during 8-9 October, provided the opportunity to launch the Observatory. The Observatory is housed within OFAC and implemented in close relationship with RAPAC (the Central African Network of Protected Areas), and will work with a wide range of government, civil society, local and international conservation organizations, and the private sector. “OFAC is the ideal partner institution and has already provided significant support to the countries of Central Africa as part of COMIFAC (Central Africa Forest Commission) in monitoring the state of the region’s forests” said Sébastien Regnaut, IUCN’s Coordinator of the BIOPAMA Programme for Central and West Africa. “Through BIOPAMA, we can support an expanded role for OFAC to provide much-needed information on the state of biodiversity in Central Africa with an emphasis on understanding the priorities for improving how protected areas are managed” he added.
In addition to the Observatory’s central aim of improving access to information, it will help to coordinate regional capacity development activities focussing on equipping protected area agencies and managers with the skills to use the best available science to support protected area management decisions. The observatory will also aim to share protected area information and management best practices from other parts of the world.
"The African, Caribbean and Pacific Group of States has as one of its priorities the protection of biodiversity for the benefit of the lives and livelihoods of the millions of people in ACP States. It is for this reason that ACP countries have contributed 20 million under the 10th EDF for this very important project", said Mr. Achille Bassilekin, Assistant Secretary-General in charge of the Department of Sustainable Economic Development and Trade, of the ACP Group. He reiterated the importance of the BIOPAMA programme by stating: "I also look forward to the launching of the remaining observatories in the other regions, which will be critical to determining the success of the BIOPAMA programme at the end of 2016".