IUCN welcomes the Central African Republic, a new Member State

20 May 2011 | News story

The Government of the Central African Republic has officially announced its decision to become an IUCN State Member by endorsing the Union’s Statutes. It has appointed the Ministry for Water, Forests, Hunting and Fisheries as the focal liaison point with IUCN’s Secretariat.

IUCN welcomes the Central African Republic. This country is named after its geographic position in the heart of Africa, and its capital is Bangui. It spans a vast 622,984 km2, several watercourses run through it and it is home to extensive dense rainforests. The country borders Chad in the north, the Republic of Congo and the Democratic Republic of Congo in the south, Sudan in the east and Cameroon in the west.

Estimates dating back to 2008 suggest the Central African Republic counts 4.5 million inhabitants, putting its population density at a very low 7 inhabitants per km2. French is the official language, but the country is home to more than 80 ethnic groups that speak many different languages. Sango, however, is the predominant language and the one that most people speak across the country.

The Central African Republic straddles two major climate zones: the Sahelian zone in the north and the Equatorial zone in the south and has four large floristic areas, namely: the Sudano-Sahelian Steppe, the Sudanese Wooded Savanna, Sudano-Guinean Woodlands and the Dense Equatorial Rainforest, which is in a category of its own because of its rich biodiversity, characteristic of the Congo Basin forest’s ecosystems. The Central African Republic, therefore, has a wide variety of natural resources suitable for diverse agricultural crops, as well as fisheries and livestock farming. Its soil contains diamonds, gold, uranium and other minerals.

Even though forestry is one of its economy’s main subsectors alongside agriculture, and alone accounts for 55% of its Gross Domestic Product (GDP), the Central African Republic’s authorities have undertaken significant forest management and conservation efforts, aiming at limiting soil erosion, protecting wildlife and, in particular, safeguarding the country’s unique forest diversity.

IUCN’s West and Central Africa Programme (IUCN-PACO) and the Central African Republic signed an agreement on 2 June 2010 to set up an office in order to support the implementation of the country’s forestry and environmental policy. This agreement draws on IUCN-PACO’s work in the Dzanga-Sangha Protected Area, through the IUCN Livelihoods and Landscapes Strategy (LLS) project in the Sangha River Tri-National Protected Area, for which IUCN opened an office in Bayanga, a city in the southwest of the Central African Republic. This office closely links IUCN-PACO with the two Ministries in charge of sustainable natural resource management, i.e. the Ministry for Water, Forests, Hunting and Fisheries, and the Ministry of Environment and Ecology.

The IUCN-run Central African Regional Programme for Environment (CARPE) has furthermore backed the implementation of the Central African Forest Commission’s (COMIFAC) Convergence Plan via the Congo Basin Forest Partnership, in 12 unique biodiversity landscapes in seven Central African countries, including the Central African Republic.

“IUCN has a key role to play in this country brimming with remarkable biological diversity and natural resource potential for present and future generations”, says IUCN-PACO Regional Director, Professor Aimé Joseph Nianogo, welcoming the Central African Republic as an IUCN State Member and reaffirming IUCN’s commitment to continued collaboration with this country, which counts several members of the Union’s Species Survival Commission who promote wise natural resource management and human well-being.

For further information, please contact:

Monique C. Yigbedek Bisseck, Head, Constituency Support and Development Unit, IUCN West and Central Africa Programme, Tel: +237 22 21 64 96, monique.yigbedek@iucn.org / www.iucn.org/paco

Basile Tito, Ministry for Water, Forests, Hunting and Fisheries, IUCN Secretariat Liaison Officer, Tel: +236 7505 1706 - 7085 9130, basitito@yahoo.fr