Partnerships between African and Swedish actors

Round table meeting with Prof. Godwin Kowero from African Forest Forum (AFF)

The round table meeting took place October 8th at KSLA.  African Forest Forum (AFF) and the Secretariat for International Forest Issues (SIFI) arranged the meeting. The steering group for SIFI, and other specially invited institutions and persons took part, e.g. from Sida, the government, universities and the Swedish cooperative centre, see presentations below.

 Collaboration on a range of programmes  

Since its establishment four years ago – with financial support from, among others, Sida – AFF has had a close collaboration with KSLA and other Swedish institutions on a range of programmes and issues.

 Forest programmes for the future

The historical (1960s to date) collaboration on forests and trees between Swedish and African partners – in research and education, economic and natural resources development, conservation, policy, commercial fields, etc. – was recently described in the publication “Swedish-African Forest Relations” (Lundgren, Persson and Norén; KSLAT 2:150, 2011), and a large number of potentially interesting collaborative forest programmes for the future were proposed in “African-Swedish collaboration programme on Sustainable Forest Management”  (Lundgren, Owino, Ishengoma and Gondo; AFF, May 2011). Some of the suggested programmes are currently being implemented, a few with Swedish institutions involved. Both these reports were collaborative undertakings between AFF and KSLA/SIFI.

The agenda of the round table meeting

  • Update on the current work and plans of AFF;
  • Briefings on the current work of participating Swedish institutions, and interest in future work, in Africa with partners of different type;
  • A non-committing and wide-ranging discussion on potential mutually beneficial linkages and partnerships between African and Swedish actors in the fields of management, use and conservation of forest and tree resources. One area of particular interest to discuss and explore opportunities for is that of “restoration of degraded lands” using forest and trees as instruments of restoration.
  • Discuss and outline the contents, approach and goals of a seminar on “African-Nordic collaboration in forestry” planned to be organised in 2013 as a joint undertaking between KSLA/SIFI and AFF, and with participation of key African, Swedish, Finnish, Norwegian and Danish institutions and individuals.

 Key players in African forest production

African forests cover 675 million hectares of which 260 million ha are under government administration and management. The focus for the AFF is to build the private sector in the remaining natural forests (about 414 million ha) and ‘other wooded land’ that covers 350 million ha. The farmers and the private companies constitute the key players in primary forest production.

Form and structure of the institutions

Some of the producer associations/groups grow timber, harvest and process it, as well as market the products. Examples include:

–      Forestry South Africa (with 9 large timber growers, 1300 medium size growers and 20 000 independent growers), 

–      National Alliance  for Community Forestry Associations (NACOFA) in Kenya (with over 100 community forest associations-CFAs as members),

–      Federation of Community Forest Networks (MJUMITA) in Tanzania (with 500 user groups and 80 affiliated local area networks),

–      Uganda Network for Collaborative Forest Management Association (UNETCOFA) in Uganda (with membership of 600 forest adjacent community based associations)

The same is also true of commercial private sector that largely involves registered companies. Examples are Timber Millers Cooperative Society Union (Malawi), Mozambican Association of Timber Operators (AMOMA), Tanzania Forest Industries Federation (SHIVIMITA), Timber Producers Federation (TPF)-Zimbabwe, Uganda Timber Growers Association, Kenya Timber Manufactures Association and Forestry South Africa.

AFF has change the analytical base in Africa

African Forest Forum has increased the collaboration with many African countries regarding technical knowledge and one voice to represent Africa during international negotiations. AFF is an independent institution and is built from individual capacities and memberships representing all the continent and different stakeholders.

Some accomplishments by AFF

1. Stakeholders and the international community are:

◦       more aware of the importance of improved and sustainable management of African forest and tree resources

◦       more aware of the importance of good forest governance and law enforcement.

2. Stakeholders and the international community are:

◦       more aware of the importance of forest ecosystem services

◦       more aware of AFF’s role in addressing climate change challenges and opportunities that are relevant to African forests and trees

3. African delegates to international forestry negotiations are:

◦       more technically knowledgeable about the issues in these negotiations

◦       capable of developing a common approach and speak with one voice to represent African interests and concerns

4. AFF plays a prominent role in :

◦       generating  and sharing high quality and up-to-date information

◦       providing collaborative opportunities for stakeholder to work together on issues related to African forests and trees.

5. Key regional and global actors consider the AFF an active partner.

◦       AFF is accredited to sessions of UNFF and UNFCCC

◦       AFF works closely with regional processes and institutions like AUC; AMCEN; PAA-GGWSSI; RECs-EAC, SADC, ECOWAS.

◦       AFF also participates in some specialized committees and expert panels established by these international, regional and sub-regional organisations.


The International Union of Forest Research Organization (IUFRO) is organising meetings in different parts of Africa discussing policy and research. AFF and IUFRO are working closely on various research questions and this collaboration will increase.

Potential fields of cooperation and partnerships

It is clear that the Swedish experiences of sustainable development make us well placed on the international arena. Often the policies are excellent, but they are not implemented. Thereby it is quite often not a technical issue – rather a legal and institutional issue – to get the sector organized. Still there are many organisations interested to invest in Africa, but often the media are very critical making it hard for European countries to enter the African market. Green growth dealing with natural resource management creates a lot of opportunities. It is still very important to learn from the past. We need broad strategies in connection to natural resources management.

The following areas are of interest for collaborations between African Forest Forum and Swedish stakeholders: Forest Ecosystem Services (climate change, forest-water relations, payment for environmental services), Sustainable Forest Management (tree seed germplasm, trans-boundary resources, forest law enforcement, good forest governance and fair trade in forest products and services (FLEGT), certification), Forest Policy Formulation and Implementation (Support to international dialogue, Provision of information for policy support), Marketing and Trade in Forest Products and Services (Fair practices in marketing and trade  in the context of FLEGT), Capacity Building and Skills Development (Development of knowledge and skills for all forest stakeholders), Communication (Information management and sharing, and networking).

A seminar on African-Nordic collaboration resources

SIFI will together with AFF organize a seminar in 2013 considering African-Nordic collaboration in the field of forest and tree resources and their role in:

  1. Economic and social development
  2. Environmental improvement
  3. Food security.


On behalf of AFF and SIFI we thank the participants for a fruitful meeting and look forward towards discussions about the coming seminar and further collaborations between Swedish and African stakeholders!

More information about AFF:

The Executive Secretary

African Forest Forum (AFF)

United Nations Avenue, Gigiri

P.O. Box 30677-00100, Nairobi, Kenya.

Phone: +254 20 722 4203

Fax: +254 20 722 4001



Presentations from the round table