The forests of the Central African Republic cover 28.3 million hectares and 45% of its territory . Dense forests cover about 36% of the CAR  , and tropical rainforest cover a significant part of the Central African Republic, mainly in the southwest. Timber exports are a vital source of foreign exchange. The forests in CAR are not only used for products extracted and used by humans (wood, firewood, palm oil, etc.), but also provide habitat for wildlife.
The commercial forestry sector contributes significantly to the national economy, accounting for 40 to 50 % of exports . It is also the most important sector of private employment.
About 10% of the CAR's forests are currently used as energy resources. The continued use of biomass for energy production is not sustainable and the increasing demands of agriculture and slash-and-burn practices are having an impact on appropriate forest resources in the CAR. The country has so far lost about 29,600 hectares of tropical forest . In addition, climate change trends will further exacerbate temperatures and rainfall variability, which will have impacts on CAR's forest ecosystems.
Pressures on CAR's forests include commercial forestry, bushmeat hunting, fuelwood collection and the harvesting of timber and non-timber forest products. The indirect factors entail lack of policy coordination, weakness of institutions, limited awareness of the environmental common goods, continuous insecurity, and politico-military crises.
In addition to the above, there is increasing pressure on the forest lands of the CAR due to socio-economic and agricultural pressures. Therefore, the general lack of economic alternatives and population growth over the next 20 years will create great pressures to clear forests. At the same time, planning for these demographic and economic pressures at local, national and regional scales is essential in order to mitigate deforestation in the CAR.
Key policies and governance approach
The CAR is a member of the National Steering Committee of the Convention on Climate Change and of the Central African Forests Commission (COMIFAC), a treaty organization created to harmonize regional policies on forestry and biodiversity conservation . To avoid the massive destruction of certain plant species, the country has also defined Minimum Exploitation Diameter (DEM) standards in order to reduce the impact of logging on certain plant species .
Forest management standards have been implemented which call for the creation of a genetic conservation area. A management strategy for protected areas is being developed under the Central African Forest Ecosystem (ECOFAC) program .
The country has made some mainstreaming progress through the creation of the Forestry Code (2008) which aims to improve the sustainable use of biodiversity and the fair sharing of benefits arising from its use through participatory management and community forestry initiatives .
Successes and remaining challenges
Weak governance and limited institutional capacity to control deforestation and enforce regulations is an underlying challenge in the CAR  . There is no monitoring and evaluation mechanism in place in the country to review the implementation status of forest projects and initiatives . Programs to assess and improve the effectiveness of protected areas, forest management, monitoring of management effectiveness, and forest status and trends at the national level still need to be developed.
As for the financial aspects, the institutional framework indicates the National Environment Fund (FNE) in CAR is responsible for the management of funds associated with the national REDD+ Strategy and process. However, the FNE's management methods are governed by a law which does not explicitly mention REDD+ in its provisions .
In addition, the CAR has great potential for tourism, especially ecotourism, but the lack of security and tourist facilities hamper development. The Ministry for the Development of Tourism and Handicrafts is poorly funded and insufficiently focused on promoting private sector investments .
Initiatives and Development Plans
Despite political instability and limited resources, the CAR has continued to advance its REDD + program. The REDD + readiness process in CAR was interrupted by the severe political crisis that hit the country from 2013, but REDD+ readiness activities restarted in 2015 . In June 2020, the Central African Republic developed its REDD+ National Investment Framework (NIF). The CAR is also preparing an institutional mechanism for REDD+ and a socially and environmentally sound national REDD+ strategy. To date, the CAR has identified 26 national measures to combat deforestation and degradation over the period of 2020-2025.
Goals and Ambitions
The CAR aims to restore degraded forest landscapes and improve its land use planning, in particular for forest areas and nature reserves .
- Due to a lack of data on the drivers of deforestation and forests at the national level and mainly outside the Southwestern Forest massif, pre-feasibility studies are recommended to be carried out for CAR to commit its quantified objectives in terms of forest cover preservation and goals.
- The consumption of fuelwood in CAR is expected to remain at very high level in the decades to come, and the consumption of charcoal is also expected to increase . While the CAR is committed to fighting against deforestation and forest degradation, the country should also focus on diversifying its energy sources and implementing measures for the sustainable use of its forests. Proposed efforts may include promoting the use of waste wood as fuel, and promoting the use of improved and more efficient stoves for household cooking needs, as well as expanding the potential and use of renewable energy in the CAR.
- Improve regulation and enforcement to protect forests, rainforests and protected areas in the country.
- Improve the collection and analysis of data on forest loss and land degradation, to advance REDD + programs in the CAR.
 Central African Forest Initiative (2022). Central African Republic - Preparatory grant for policy dialogue and pre-feasibility in the Central African Republic
 Social Watch (2012). https://www.socialwatch.org/node/13981.
 Central African Republic, "Midway Progress Report" (2020).