Almost all the forests in South Sudan are community forests, hence the importance of community forestry - this is where the local communities play a significant role in forest management and land use decision making.
The timber industry is an important development opportunity for the Republic of South Sudan, if its practices are environmentally sustainable. UNEP has estimated that teak plantations along could generate up to US$50 million per year in export revenue.
However, in recent years an estimated 70 percent of forest cover has been lost throughout the country as a result of accelerating deforestation due to wood being collected for fuel, charcoal production, livestock, agriculture, bricks, and collection of construction materials.
The 2009 Land Act provides ample space for community control of this important natural resource, and UNEP is working closely with government, institutions, industry and the communities themselves to introduce sustainable forest management and halt rapid deforestation.
Specifically UNEP is currently piloting two 12-month community forestry projects in Central and Eastern Equatoria states. The objective is to acquire hands-on experience in natural forest management with local communities. Consultative workshops were held in September and November 2012 to bring together stakeholders in the forestry sector and to raise awareness on community forestry in the country.
UNEP’s approach has been overwhelmingly well received by counterparts, including the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, Cooperatives and Rural Development and UKAID, with recognition that there is a clear need to support the sustainable management of natural forests.