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Durban – Satellite technologies to help protect the forests of the Congo Basin

Joint statement by Alain Juppé and Nathalie Kosciusko-Morizet

(Paris, 8 December 2011)

Thirteen million hectares of forest disappear each year worldwide, leading to irreversible environmental damage and threatening the way of life of human societies that are directly dependant on them. Collective actions at the local and international level (REDD+, national climate plans, etc.) are being implemented to preserve the forests of the Congo Basin, the world’s third largest. To support them, the French Government has pledged to make high-definition satellite images available free of charge in order to measure and better understand the impact of deforestation on the Congo Basin.

Alain Juppé, Ministre d’Etat and Minister of Foreign and European Affairs, and Nathalie Kosciusko-Morizet, Minister of the Environment, Sustainable Development, Transportation and Housing, welcome the concrete implementation of this project, which will add a new dimension to the preservation of forest ecosystem.

Today in Durban, Ms. Kosciusko-Morizet brought together several recipient countries, represented by François Naouyema, the Central African Republic’s Minister of Environment and Ecology; José Endundo Bononge, the Democratic Republic of Congo’s Minister of Environment, Nature Conservation and Tourism; and Henri Jombo, the Republic of Congo’s Minster of Sustainable Development, Forest Economy and the Environment, to make this new partnership official. On this occasion, representatives of Cameroon and Gabon underscored their interest in joining this initiative.

Ms. Kosciusko-Morizet stressed that “concretizing this project in Durban, on African soil, offers hope for progress in the fight against deforestation through technology transfers, notably in the countries of the Congo Basin, where France is particularly invested in the REDD+ partnership.”

Thanks to an €8.5 million subsidy from the Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs, this project—announced by the French government during the 2099 Copenhagen Summit—was implemented by the French Development Agency (AFD) and the company Astrium Services, with support from a technical consortium comprising the French National Geographic Institute (IGN), the National Space Studies Center (CNES), the Development Research Institute (IRD) and the National Forestry Office (ONF).

According to Nathalie Marthe-Bismuth, general director of IGN France International, “Making this satellite data available represents an invaluable technology transfer for the authorities of the countries in question and for their operators. Support in terms of local capacity building is essential.”

For Patrick Le Roch, Astrium Services’ executive director of GEO Information, “This partnership agreement with AFD facilitates access to satellite technologies in order to preserve and sustainably manage the forests of Central Africa. We hope this innovative approach combining private sector players and official development assistance will continue in the years to come.

Complete information on the challenges of the United Nations Conference on Climate Change (COP 17) is available on the Web site of the Ministry of Sustainable Development and on France Diplomatie:

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