On October 20, 2016 in Limbe, Cameroon, the Alliance for the Conservation of Great Apes in Central Africa (GSAC Alliance) was born.
Six African civil society organizations (CSOs) were behind the initiative; ERUDEF and TF-RD in Cameroon, ESI-Congo in Congo Brazzaville, GACEBB and MMT in DRC and PROGRAM in Gabon. These CSOs were, and still are, partners of the Small Initiatives Program (PPI) funded by the French Environment Fund (FFEM) and implemented by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN).
This collective initiative was built step by step. In April 2016, these 6 NGOs organized a first strategic workshop held in Nkala, DRC, at the headquarters of the NGO Mbou Mon Tour (MMT). This strategic workshop laid the foundations for the creation of this network: on this occasion, the missions, the vision and the strategic objectives of the Alliance were defined by all the NGO members. Exchange visits were then made between the representatives of these six actors in order to reinforce the cohesion between them and to share the experiences of each one. An important first step.
This initiative was formalized later in October 2016 in Limbe, Cameroon, during a constituent General Assembly.
The members of the GSAC Alliance are all working on issues of great apes conservation and local development support in the Congo Basin forests. They intervene in territories with major ecological challenges and gradually accumulate valuable expertise and credibility.
Protecting the forests and apes that inhabit them is the only way to secure a favorable future. We share a common belief: we have a community of origin and destiny with all living beings on this earth and man can not detach his branch from the tree of life. Protecting our closest cousins and the forests that shelter them is an unavoidable challenge facing humanity.
It is in Africa, and especially in the Congo Basin, that the great majority of great apes inhabiting our planet are found. On this continent of contrast, we can not ignore that the most basic needs are not accessible to all men and women. But we can not resign ourselves to sacrificing, on the altar of economic development, that unique legacy that constitutes our common past and common future. Echoing the paths led by Diane Fossey, Jane Goodall and more recently Sabrina Krief, these NGOs present themselves as custodians of a world heritage whose humanity is probably not worth the whole value.
The world of conservation is changing step by step and the postulates influencing it are evolving with it. Civil society and citizens of Central African countries have a major role to play in issues of biodiversity conservation and rural development support, otherwise there is every reason to believe that the conservation goals set in national, regional and global scales can not be sustainably achieved in a fair and efficient manner.
Let us hope that this alliance is the first stone of an unprecedented mobilization whose magnitude is equal to the stake it defends.
The creation of the GSAC Alliance responds to a strong desire of the founding members to pool their efforts following a shared finding that can be summarized as follows: despite the effective contribution to the protection of great apes and their habitat every day on the ground the role played by African civil society is currently not sufficiently recognized by all stakeholders working on the issue. This reality, combined with a glaring lack of visibility of the actions carried out, directly impacts the support enjoyed by these actors, and consequently, the conservation of great apes on the ground, in a context of multiplying efforts in this area. It is this initial observation that allowed the birth of this new group of local actors.
The GSAC Alliance wants to be a platform for exchanges and learning on technical and strategic aspects, which should allow to make trips of exchange of experiences, support the porting of collective projects, in particular on a regional scale build capacity, both technical and organizational, and promote good associative governance. The logic associated with the operation of the network is based on the collegiality of decisions and the collective construction of actions and solutions.
African civil society has a major role to play in taking ownership of species conservation processes; the GSAC Alliance is the opportunity for its members to establish themselves legitimately as indispensable actors of the sub-region in community conservation of great apes, their habitat. As such, the GSAC Alliance has defined three main areas of intervention: strengthening the political legitimacy of its members, strengthening the technical credibility of its members and finally supporting concrete actions on the ground.
The Statute of GSAC Alliance is searchable.