Welcome to the Forest Flyer, a quarterly news update from the United States Forest Service International Programs Africa & Middle East Team. To view previous issues of this newsletter, please click here. For more information about our programs, contact Kathleen Sheridan, Assistant Director, at kathleen.sheridan@usda.gov.
Introducing Climate Fellow Dr. René Siwe Ngamabou
We recently chatted with Climate Fellow and USFS Central Africa Program (CARPE) colleague Dr. René Siwe Ngamabou. We learned about his proudest accomplishments from three years as an embedded Department of State Climate Fellow in the Republic of Congo's Ministry of Forest Economy. We also learned about his enthusiasm for a new regional-wide women's mentorship program that aims to get more women involved in the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change reporting process.

How would you describe your job as a climate fellow?

Answer: I support sustainable management of landscapes and climate change efforts. In the Republic of Congo, I provided technical support for setting up the National Forest Monitoring System, preparing the National Greenhouse Gas inventory, and designing emission reduction programs.

What did you like best about your position?

Answer: I liked working really closely with the national institution. It gave me a chance to understand country requirements and the challenges they face. It also gave me the opportunity to find tailored solutions to specific issues.

What was most challenging about your job?

Answer: Politically, countries understand the importance of contributing to global efforts to stabilize GHG emissions and reduce the impacts of climate change and are committed. The problem is political commitment vs. capabilities and motivation on the ground. Even those that are trained may lack the framework to operationalize what they know.

What do you think was your greatest achievement?

Answer: We strengthened the National Forest Monitoring System, and we created a Measuring, Reporting, and Verification Unit that can address issues associated with the System. We assigned roles and responsibilities so staff within the ministry can carry out their work effectively. Furthermore, Ministry staff now have training and resources to enable them to effectively monitor forest cover and land use and to estimate greenhouse gases. We have also created products to inform policy decision-makers on sustainable management of landscapes.

What was your favorite part about the job?

Answer: I enjoy trying to impact change, and I find being a mentor very rewarding, in my job and beyond. It gives me a chance to transfer my experience and knowledge to others.
SilvaCarbon Women in Forest Carbon Initiative
SilvaCarbon recently launched the Women and Forest Carbon Mentorship Initiative to increase women's engagement in SilvaCarbon activities and to promote gender equality in the broader field of forest and carbon management and monitoring. The initiative will provide women professionals and students in SilvaCarbon countries with professional experiences, learning opportunities, and mentorship focused on careers in the field of forest management and monitoring. Additionally, in-country mentor professionals and mentors from U.S. government agencies will further develop mentorship capabilities and transfer of knowledge and skills. The program will build a global network of women working and pursuing careers in forest and carbon management and monitoring and encourage international exchange among professional counterparts around the world.
Meet the two in-country mentors from Democratic Republic of Congo.
Martine Badibanga Kamunga is an environmental expert, with a focus on climate change and education. She is the National Coordinator for education and communication on climate change at the Ministry of Environment and Sustainable Development and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC)'s focal point for UNFCCC on gender in DRC as well as for the Coalition for Rainforest Nations and the REDD+ Catalytic Fund project. She is passionate about education, preservation of the environment and the fight against climate change.
Lisa-Olga Makonga is an economist by training and a GIS specialist in practice. She has completed training in GIS and remote sensing, digital mapping and natural resource management. She is in charge of capacity building on GIS and remote sensing with the Central Africa Forest Satellite Observatory running their training laboratory at University of Kinshasa.
SilvaCarbon is an interagency technical cooperation program of the U.S. government to enhance tropical forested countries’ capacity to monitor, measure, and report on carbon in their forests and other lands. The U.S. Forest Service supports its implementation. For more information about SilvaCarbon visit www.silvacarbon.org and watch this video.
USFS Africa & Middle East Team Support for Climate Change
Download our climate change factsheet here.