The Central Africa World Heritage Forest Initiative is the result of a long consultation between the World Heritage Centre of UNESCO and various partners. This Initiative aims to improve the management of protected areas of the Congo Basin that could be recognized as having "outstanding universal value" and to improve their integration in the ecological landscape encompassing them.
The Congo Basin harbors the second largest tropical forest area after the Amazonian Basin and shelters some of the greatest biological diversity of Africa. Conservation of this biodiversity is currently seriously threatened by an important and growing traffic of bushmeat. Hunting in this area is usually non-selective and illegal. It has been identified as one of the most significant threats to biodiversity conservation and thus to the sustainability of these ecosystems.
Despite growing recognition of the importance of these forest areas by national governments, National Park authorities often face severe financial constraints. Signature of the Yaoundé Declaration in 1999 by most countries in the region testifies their will to improve this situation and act for improved sustainable management of these ecosystems. The CAWHFI Initiative, in collaboration with other members of the Congo Basin Forest Partnership (CBFP), integrates this dynamic and significantly contributes to several strategic orientations adopted by the Yaoundé Declaration.