n Africa Conflict Monthly Monitor - Africa's forest conflicts : a battle for resources - : Africa-wide - monitoring economies

Volume 2014, Issue 03
  • ISSN :


The vast forested areas of Central Africa remain the backdrop for complex, intertwined and ongoing conflicts. The most recent among these is the war in the Central African Republic (CAR) which, amid escalating religious clashes, has become increasingly violent in 2014. There are several factors that encourage conflict in forests. First and foremost, the cash-generation from forest resources attracts outsiders who include profit-driven loggers and miners as well as refugees and/or participants in conflict. The forests provide cover to hide, and a base from which to plan attacks, and also generate income - from timber, wildlife and mineral resources - to fund violent campaigns of rebel groups. This sets the scene for hostility between, on the one hand, individuals and entities depleting forest resources and, on the other, communities traditionally resident in forests. Such communities have often been overlooked by African governments which favour quick commercial deals with businesses that do not necessarily act in the interests of indigenous forest people. Fighting over the vast resources that forests provide may be a key contributor to conflict, as seen in the CAR. Such conflicts make it all the more imperative that governments embark on community forestry programmes, whereby local communities are integral to forest management and land use decisions.

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