Certified SFM preserves biodiversity

Latest research has shown that certified sustainable forest management, including low impact logging, supports habitat preservation and richness and diversity of wildlife.

The WWF study was conducted in the Peruvian Amazon and the results published in Remote Sensing in Ecology and Conservation journal, which is produced by educational services provider Wiley and the Zoological Society of London.

Researchers evaluated the impact of forest management certified under the Forest Stewardship Council scheme in Peru’s Tahuamanu Province in the Madre de Dios region.

They found that the sustainably managed area supported greater diversity in a range of species, including amphibians, insects and monkeys, compared to non-certified forest. The species variety was comparable with that in undisturbed forest.

The research team used acoustic technology analysis to gauge the diversity of wildlife in the study region, recording  hundreds of audio samples of birds, insects, amphibians and monkeys in three large industrial concessions. Two were FSC-certified and one non- certified. In total they set up 67 recording sites across the sustainably managed and non-certified logging sites.

They found not just a greater variety, but a greater quantity of animal sounds in the certified forest and both were comparable with what might be expected in un-exploited forest.

“Our findings reinforce conclusions of other studies that certified forests can maintain similar levels of fauna biodiversity to undisturbed primary forest in the Amazon region,” concluded the research team. They added that their work provided important pointers for future biodiversity analysis, with numbers and variety of insects and ‘anurans’ amphibians (toads and frogs) providing most reliable evidence of habitat structure variation.

“The Peruvian project provides further validation for the STTC’s view that uptake of certified sustainable forest management practice supports tropical forest and habitat maintenance,” said Nienke Sleurink of the STTC. “And one way to encourage that is to grow the market for verified sustainable tropical timber from those certified forests.”

The findings also bear out statements of the Fair&Precious campaign that certified forest concessions ensure preservation of wildlife habitat.

“In addition, the communication routes maintained within the forests improve the mobility of large mammals, which has resulted in the repopulation of the various species,” it says.

Workers in the Peruvian FSC-certified forest used reduced impact logging strategies including pre‐harvest inventory, plunge cut, planned skidding and directional felling to reduce collateral damage. The FSC concessions also had lower harvesting intensity in terms of number of trees and timber volume, higher log recovery and they damaged fewer commercial species during felling than non‐FSC concessions.

According to the WWF, timber production takes place in around a third of tropical forest. Poorly conducted logging, it says, can degrade ecosystems and fragment habitats, threatening biodiversity. However, responsibly managed logging can conserve it, as well as providing sustainable  local livelihoods and economic development.

This findings of the latest research complement an earlier study which concluded that densities of large and medium-sized tropical animals in FSC-certified logging areas, including jaguars and pumas, were similar to or even higher than in protected areas.

“This new study shows us that it is possible to combine production forestry with biodiversity conservation if done in the right way and in the right places.” said William Baldwin-Cantello, WWF Forest Practice Lead.

 

 

 

 

Obstacles in sourcing certified tropical timber

Over 90% of all wood imported by the members of the Netherlands Timber Trade Association (VVNH) is from verified sustainable forest. However the proportion of certified material in their tropical timber imports declined in 2018.

These are among the findings of the annual trade report covering VVNH’s 216 members by forest and timber sustainability analysts and advisors Probos. According to its analysis, 91.9% of the 1.8 million m3 of softwood, hardwood and sheet materials imported by VVNH companies in 2018 was backed with an FSC or PEFC certificate, about the same level as 2017.

The highest proportion of certified imports came in softwood, up from 98.4% in 2017 to 99.1%.

Certified sheet materials showed an increase in the certified total from 93.5% to 94.5%, while certified temperate hardwood imports were up from 46.6% to 59.6%.

But the proportion of certified tropical timber imported into the Netherlands fell from 66.1% in 2017 to 63.6% last year.

VVNH Director Paul van den Heuvel said that there were various factors involved in this decline. “Members earlier reported that it was becoming increasingly difficult to get verified sustainable tropical wood. Now this is also reflected in the figures,” he said. “Among the causes is that some certified forest concessions are in conflict areas, making them no longer accessible. Also implicated is increasing tropical timber demand in Asia, where sustainability is hardly ever a purchasing criteria.”

In addition, Jan Oldenburger from Probos added; ‘Malaysia is the most important supplier of certified material for the Dutch market and if the certified sustainably managed forest area there decreases, it will impact the market share. Although we are worried, we should be aware that a one year’s decrease, might be an incident. We continue to monitor the situation.”

In the Netherlands, leading timber and associated trade associations, construction and retail sector bodies, unions, conservation organisations and various government ministries have signed a ‘Covenant’ to make verified sustainable timber the norm across the supply chain. Mr Van den Heuvel, chairman of the Covenant board, said the VVNH and the other 23 signatories needed to step up their efforts in supporting sustainable tropical timber demand, which in turn supports sustainable tropical forest management.

”One thing is clear,” he said. “If the market for verified sustainable wood doesn’t lead quickly to a better business case for sustainable forest management in the tropics, we will probably lose even more certified concessions, with over-harvesting or deforestation as a result. In short, the remaining challenges are great and all parties must work hard to meet Covenant objectives”.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

EU commits to boost global forest protection effort

© Courtesy TFT

The EU has pledged to support spread of sustainable, biodiverse forest coverage worldwide. In July the European Commission adopted the EU Communication ‘Stepping up EU Action to Protect and Restore the World’s Forests’.

The STTC welcomed the new development as in line with its objective to grow the EU market for verified sustainable tropical timber. At the same time, IDH – the Sustainable Trade Initiative urged further steps, including using regulation and demand, to drive development of deforestation free supply chains.

The EU communication proposes creation of a ‘multi-stakeholder platform’ and an EU Observatory on deforestation and forest degradation. It also advocates exploration of forest protection  legislative measures, and reinforcing implementation of the EU Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade (FLEGT) Action Plan to combat illegal logging.

At its core are five policy priorities for the EU. To:

  • Reduce the EU’s consumption footprint on land and encourage consumption of products from deforestation-free supply chains
  • Work with producer countries to reduce pressures on forests and “deforest-proof” EU development cooperation
  • Strengthen international cooperation to halt deforestation and forest degradation, and promote reforestation
  • Redirect finance to more sustainable land-use practices
  • Increase provision of information and back research on forests and commodity supply chains

“Setting out these policy priorities is a positive step and the strategy shares key goals with the STTC and its partners,” said Nienke Sleurink of the STTC . “The STTC’s aim is also to ensure deforestation-free timber supply chains and forest maintenance through supporting uptake of sustainable timber procurement policy and so drive the spread of sustainable forest management. It also welcomes increased backing for forest research, with another STTC strategy being to support development of markets for verified sustainable lesser used tropical species and so make sustainable forest management more economically viable.”

ATIBT’s Fair & Precious campaign has also been active in moves to achieve deforestation-free supply chains in forest commodities. It is involved in the French National Strategy against Imported Deforestation (SNDI), including in sharing its experience with the F&P brand for the possible development of a ‘Zero Deforestation’ label.

The EU says its new strategy on forests is a response to ‘persistence of the issue of global deforestation and increasing awareness of the link between deforestation and agricultural expansion, as well as repeated calls from the European Parliament and the Council to take action’.

“It recognizes that the EU, as a major importer of agricultural and forest commodities, is part of the problem, but can also be part of the solution,” it states. “The overall objective of the initiative is to develop a more coherent and comprehensive approach to the problem.”

Among the additional measures IDH urged the EU to consider in a position paper on the Communication [add link to IDH position paper] was use of competition compliance legislation to ‘promote innovation for sustainable supply chains’.

“Closer collaboration between DG Environment and DG Trade should also be explored,” it said. “How can trade agreements be set up in such a way that sustainable production and imports are promoted, and the requirements for imports are enforced?”

The organisation also suggests making it obligatory for EU member states to source only sustainable products, and it recommends partnering on sustainable supply chain development with other trading powers, mentioning India and China. It recommends too including sustainability data in trade statistics to inform policy development.

IDH also highlights the importance of including smallholders in sustainable trade strategy and supporting anti-deforestation measures at sub-national level.

It additionally questions the EU Communication’s recommendation to ‘disseminate information to help reduce demand for products whose supply chains may involve deforestation’. “Moving away from supply chains that have issues will not create impact, it merely displaces the problem,” states IDH. “All efforts that the EU undertakes should focus on creating an incentive for continuous improvement in production. Part of this incentive is increasing demand.”

STTC partner Interholco also contributed to consultation, which can be found here.

More background to the EU strategy can be found in its Roadmap document.

Shanghai International Forum focuses on tropical timber’s future – challenges and opportunities

Growing worldwide timber demand, combating deforestation and the need to move to a bio-based, de-carbonised global economy are among topics in focus at the International Tropical Timber Technical Association (ATIBT) International Forum in Shanghai.

The event is titled Together Towards Global Green Supply Chains and takes place from October 22 to 23. It is being held in association with the China Timber and Wood Products Distribution Association (CTWPDA) and the International Tropical Timber Organisation (ITTO) as an outcome of its Legal and Sustainable Supply Chains (LSSC) initiative.

There will be field visits on October 24 and 26 October and delegates also have the opportunity to attend the CTWPDA’s Global Hardwood and Wood Flooring Conference, which takes place in Huzhou, Zhejiang Province on October 25.

Rapid transition to a bio-based economy

The organisers cite the latest Special Report from the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which stated that global climate goals cannot be reached without rapid transition to a bio-based, de-carbonised economy founded on legal and sustainable production and consumption.  At the same time, they say, the gap between global demand and supply of timber is expected to widen to 2050, as wood fibre consumption increases, driven by growing population, notably in tropical countries, and deforestation and forest degradation impacts wood availability.

In response to these market and environmental challenges, many forest-based companies have implemented responsible production and sourcing strategies. However, many producers, notably in tropical countries, face difficulties in responding due to ‘lack of incentives and enabling frameworks’ and limited technical and financial capacity to meet and document compliance with legality and sustainability [requirements]’.

Calls for international cooperation

This, say the Forum organisers, calls for market collaboration and communication.
“There is an urgent need to develop green markets domestically and internationally, enhancing direct connectivity between producers and consumers,” they state.  “This will also promote better understanding of demand, supply and market constraints, while strengthening trust, via which climate and other benefits can be derived.”

The ITTO urges private sector action on these issues to complement efforts to meet Sustainable Development Goals. It launched its LSSC programme to incentivize green markets, support enabling governance frameworks and increase capacity for implementation of good practice. The aim is also to connect ‘committed consumers and producers’.

The Global Green Supply Chain

Under its Global Green Supply Chain (GGSC) initiative, ITTO is also partnering with leading Chinese wood trading and processing operations. The aim is a GGSC Platform connecting international and domestic producers and consumers to increase sustainable wood sourcing and production and ensure sustainable wood supply meets international demand for legal, sustainable and certified timber.

Key aims and outcomes

The Forum will also address how such steps can bring associated benefits; poverty alleviation, employment creation, economic growth and climate change mitigation.

Key goals of the event are:

  • To raise the profile of productive forests and their contribution to climate change mitigation and sustainable development
  • To review the private sector’s role in climate change and development initiatives
  • To identify legality and sustainability issues in wood supply chains and capacity requirements for sustainable forest management and deforestation-free practice
  • To address challenges and opportunities in global wood supply chain demand and supply
  • To encourage development of sustainable timber and wood products supply chains
  • To promote partnership in global green wood supply chains.

The aim of the event will also be to establish an LSSC-GGSC Platform to facilitate business information exchange and collaboration between timber producers, buyers, processors and wood market representatives.

Forum delegates are expected to include; ITTO and GGSC current and prospective members; CTWPDA members with an interest in LSSC and GGSC; ATIBT members, including representatives of the African forest concession and wood industries; forest and timber federation representatives from the Amazon Basin and Southeast Asia; GGSC current and potential donors; and other stakeholders, including representatives of government, research bodies, academia, forest and timber trade initiatives and civil society.

The International Forum will also be a prime opportunity for networking, with business-to-business meetings arranged by the organisers, where required.  Proceedings will be in English, French, Spanish and Mandarin, with simultaneous translation.

For more details and registration contact: Manissa Tanhchaleun
manissa.tanhchaleun@atibt.org or visit https://www.atibt.org/en/2nd-announcement-for-atibt-2019-shanghai-forum/

Technical and communications synergies for tropical timber

This is the first joint newsletter from the Sustainable Tropical Timber Coalition and the Fair&Precious marketing initiative from ATIBT (International Technical Association for Tropical Timber). It follows their agreement last year to cooperate and to reinforce their individual strengths and objectives. The two organisations see their roles and strategies as ‘deeply complementary’. Operating in tandem, they maintain, they can more effectively achieve their shared goal of growing the European market for verified sustainable tropical timber, which in turn will increase uptake of sustainable forest management in tropical countries. 

“This partnership is a logical progression. The STTC and Fair&Precious work in different ways, but ultimately we share the same goals. The STTC has undertaken a lot of research and technical work into the availability, supply, demand and performance of sustainable tropical timber, while F&P is highly effective in terms of broader communications, use of visuals and branding.  Combining these capabilities, provision of technical information and communication skills and tools, will create a powerful resource for verified sustainable tropical timber in the marketplace.”
Nienke Sleurink, Program Manager at STTC founder IDH, The Sustainable Trade Initiative.

“The ATIBT – with Fair&Precious brand- and STTC  have common aims; promoting FSC and PEFC-certified tropical timber and increasing its European market share. We now have a two-step approach to driving  synergies between us. We are starting with collaboration on quickly achievable aims and discussing stepping up our activities in 2020. We are working on a co-branded market data report, which FSC, PEFC, the European Timber Trade Federation and maybe NGOs can use as a stepping off point to help increase certified market share. Our joint newsletter will disseminate our tools and reports to a wider audience and we will use STTC’s data to support the Fair&Precious campaign. Together we are also stepping up use of social media.”
Benoît Jobbé-Duval, Managing Director Fair&Precious founder ATIBT.

 

 

 

 

 

EU risks missing sustainable sourcing targets

Europe is still contributing to deforestation through trade in ‘forest risk’ commodities.

According to a report from IDH, The Sustainable Trade Initiative, large-scale EU imports of tropical timber, soy, palm oil and cocoa continue to result in forest destruction and degradation and the consequent environmental damage.

Titled The Data Speaks, the report says that businesses are still buying ‘alarmingly low’ sustainable, responsibly sourced commodities, despite EU government and business pledges to import these exclusively by 2020.

To hit this target, IDH urges business and government to implement nine ‘key actions’ to create more sustainable supply chains.  

The report reviews global trade in these commodities. Except for palm oil, only 30% or under were imported by the EU as certified sustainably sourced, with the figure for timber at just 28.5%.

Sustainable trade performance varied widely between north western and southern Europe. For example, 65-70% of the Netherlands’ primary tropical timber imports are responsibly sourced. In Italy and Spain the figures are estimated around 5-10% and 2.5-7.5%.

“Current EU progress is not enough,” said Daan Wensing, Director of the IDH Landscape Program. “It is dangerously behind when it comes to meeting responsible sourcing and no-deforestation pledges. We need urgent action from industry players and governments to jointly fight deforestation in supply chains, while securing economic development and livelihoods in producing countries.”

Research from the Global Forest Watch (GFW) reinforces IDH’s findings. It reveals that 3.6m hectares of tropical forest have been cleared since 2002, largely driven by agricultural commodity production.

However, according to a YouGov poll, commissioned by the Environmental Investigation Agency, Fern, Greenpeace and WWF, 87% of European consumers are demanding deforestation-free products.

IDH has been at the forefront of efforts to encourage corporations, producers, governments and civil society to introduce forest protection strategies, which also protect the livelihoods of local people.

IDH’s nine key actions to drive sustainable forest product trade are:

  1. Introduction of EU sustainable sourcing requirements for all commodities
  2. Development of industry association sustainable roadmaps, backed by government incentives and NGO input
  3. Implementation of mandatory reporting guidelines for businesses importing large volumes of commodities
  4. Identification of deforestation hot spots among sourcing regions to prioritise industry action
  5. Establishment of Verified Sourcing Areas, backed by incentives to drive transition to sustainable land use
  6. Mainstreaming of sustainable commodity production through government and private sector investment
  7. Direction of European commodity sourcing to deforestation hotspots to incentivise sustainable production
  8. Creation of government-to-government partnerships between the EU and supplier countries to grow capacity, strengthen enforcement and support land use planning
  9. Grow sustainable importing in non-EU countries by supporting sustainable production and through dialogue and knowledge sharing.

“Forest loss continues at an alarming rate,” concluded Daan Wensing. “The good news is that we have the partners and tools to fight it and, by pooling Europe’s demand for sustainable commodities from hotspot regions, the situation can be changed. Commitments matter. but stopping global deforestation and climate change will take more than just words – together, we need to turn pledges into action.”

IDH will present its findings at the International Sustainability Week of the Amsterdam Declaration Partnership (ADP) in Utrecht from 11-14 June. The ADP is a partnership between Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, Norway, the Netherlands and UK promoting deforestation-free, sustainable commodities.

IDH was supported in producing The Data Speaks by, the European Palm Oil Alliance, Probos, ATIBT and the Netherlands’ IUCN National Committee.

See #pledges2action

Bringing tropical timber on board with Amsterdam Declaration

EU-wide action to ensure import of 100% sustainably sourced forest commodities, including tropical timber, was the topic of a special Sustainable Tropical Timber Event organised by IDH,The Sustainable Trade Initiative and the STTC. Preliminary findings of the new market report on verified sustainable tropical timber imports were presented, concluding that 25-32% of tropical timer imported into the EU is ‘exposed’ to certification.

The Utrecht event on 12 June attracted public and private sector delegates. It was part of a series of events IDH organized during the International Sustainability Week Towards Deforestation-free, Sustainable Commodities of the Amsterdam Declaration Partnership (ADP). The ADP commits its signatories to eliminate deforestation resulting from trade in agro-commodities by 2020, comprising beef, leather, palm oil, paper, pulp, cocoa and rubber. The fact that it does not include timber and that action on all forest-risk commodities is not moving fast enough are the focus of a just-published IDH report, The Data Speaks.  and were also the theme of the Utrecht meeting. The concern was that, without further measures and the inclusion of timber in any strategy, ADP signatories may not hit their 2020 target.

“Commitments matter, but stopping global deforestation will take more than words. It requires real actions from European producers and on the ground in producing countries, while transforming markets globally,” states IDH. “With 2020 coming closer, it is clear that the ambitious objectives of many players concerning no-deforestation in supply chains will not be met.”

The conference included the release of the preliminary findings of the forthcoming STTC and IDH report on European market share of verified sustainable tropical timber from forests and timber sustainability advisors and analysts Probos and the Global Timber Forum (GTF).  This looks at latest trade trends in verified sustainable tropical timber, concluding that 25-32% of tropical timer imported into the EU is ‘exposed’ to certification (that equates to the certified production forest area of supplier countries). It also estimated that 12.5 million ha of tropical forest would additionally be impacted if the EU imported 100% verified sustainable timber.

The audience agreed with the findings and recommendations of the report, which was commissioned by STTC/IDH. “They also made important points and raised questions,” said Mark van Benthem of Probos. ”They highlighted the need to include secondary timber products in these kind of studies, like furniture and flooring, and for more insight into indirect imports, such as those from China into the EU”.

Delegates also asked whether a greater area of sustainably managed, certified forest in South East Asia could be linked to FLEGT Voluntary Partnership Agreement being in place with Indonesia. As far as the audience knew, there has not been research bringing evidence of a relationship. In addition, MTCS and The Borneo Initiative have been working in the region pushing for certification in the region for 2 decades already.

At the Conference, Chris Beeko of the Ghanaian Forestry Commission also addressed FLEGT and its Voluntary Partnership Agreement programme. He explained that, although the market has shifted dramatically since the start of the FLEGT process and Europe now only plays a minor role for the Ghanaian timber trade, the country is keen to proceed with the FLEGT programme, which has significantly benefited  the forest based sector through greater stakeholder participation, implementation of timber tracking and other developments.

This was followed by a discussion on the EU Forest Law Enforcement Governance and Trade Initiative (FLEGT) and certification between UK Timber Trade Federation Managing Director, David Hopkins, Remi Souria of the PEFC and John Hontelez of FSC.

The central question was on how FLEGT can be a stepping stone towards sustainability and lay foundations on which sustainable forest management measures can build. Differences between FLEGT and certification mentioned were that one is mandatory, the other voluntary and that the former may allow genetic modification, but PEFC and FSC do not. FLEGT also brings scale, in terms of nationwide coverage and product volume, whereas certification takes less time to implement.

A sign that the two are recognising that they can be complementary, however, was FLEGT countries exploring the possibility with PEFC of additionally adopting certification. In general, there was agreement on the importance and role of FLEGT among the speaker panel.

At the event, IDH Landscapes Program Director Daan Wensing also explained the nine actions to drive sustainable forest commodities sourcing detailed in The Data Speaks report.

LKTS support trade group meets

 

The working group of a new trade initiative to develop the European market for lesser known timber species from the Congo Basin (LKTSCB) has held its first meeting.

The LKTSCB emerged from a business marketing summit in Libreville, Gabon, last summer, the FSC Congo Basin Business Encounter where the focus was on driving uptake of certified sustainable forest management across the region.

The LKTSCB was set up following the conclusion that a key factor in incentivising supplier countries to opt for certification is a growing market for the resulting certified timber. Creating demand for lesser known species in particular can make certification more economically viable.

The stated aim of the new European trade group, which is overseen by the FSC, is to introduce and promote selected lesser known species simultaneously in France, the Netherlands, Denmark, Germany, Italy, the UK and Belgium.  Attending its inaugural meeting in Utrecht in January were Ewa Bazydlo of Lathams in the UK, Emmanuel Groutel of Wale/CBG in France, Gijs Burgman of Wijma and Jan Kemps of Hotim Veteka both in the Netherlands, Klaus Schmidt of Cross Trade in Germany, Dirk Debussche of Vandecasteele in Belgium and Kristian Jorgensen of FSC Denmark. Co-ordinating was Ben Romein of FSC Netherlands.

Delegates presented strategic views on prospects for LKTS in their respective markets and a common promotional approach. They also discussed species selection and who should take various roles in the initiative. They also addressed budget and promotion and marketing issues, with support to be provided by the International Tropical Timber Technical Association (ATIBT).

They identified seven Congo region species related and market areas to target; Alep, Amouc, Andoung, Eveuss, Eyoum, Gombé, Movingui, Olon and Ozigo. These varieties will be

further evaluated by the working group and once approved, the introductory phase will start and a promotional programme and timetable developed.

 

 

 

STTC and FSC together back sustainable development

FSC launched a new campaign in early 2019 to promote broad engagement with its certification programme and help businesses align corporate strategies with sustainable development goals (SDGs).  The campaign has a strong tropical timber theme to it, supported by STTC in 2018.

The ‘Together we are FSC’ campaign and marketing and promotion tool kit was outlined at the STTC Conference in Paris last year by FSC Europe Regional Director Anand Punja. He said that effective and well-meaning NGO campaigning to combat indiscriminate logging in rainforests had ‘turned people off tropical timber’. ‘Together we are FSC’ aims to develop equally impactful messaging, underlining the environmental, economic and social benefits of buying verified sustainable tropical timber ‘to turn people back on to it’. It also connects these benefits to the wider SDGs as a way to make the benefits more aligned to the international agenda and more accessible to a wider public.

The campaign website provides a range of stories and case studies business can use to explain and raise awareness of the livelihood, well-being and environmental impacts of sustainable forestry and timber production.

Designed in a consumer-style with high impact visuals and sound bite messaging, it is also clearly targeted at specifiers and the wider public. Each project described is also linked to a specific SDG, such as poverty eradication, education provision, achieving responsible consumption and production, climate action and combating loss of biodiversity and pollution .

The site includes profiles of two Gabon sawmill supplying certified timber.  Not only does this incentivise local sustainable forestry, it says, it is committed to high welfare standards for workers, while the use of wood residues from milling are used to generate energy to power the plant.

Another section highlights the emphasis certification places on gender equality. “To overcome challenges in achieving gender equality in the forest sector, FSC standards require equality in employment practices, training opportunities, awarding of contracts, processes of engagement and management activities,” it says.

It also describes how FSC’s certification scheme help  to bring social benefits such as education to children in tropical forests as part of the standards requirements in such places for those forest businesses that want to achieve certification and promote their product as an FSC certified product.

“Many certified forests, especially in the Southern hemisphere often include betters schools for the children of forest workers,”  states FSC.

Certification, says the FSC, also helps achieve a range of other SDGS, including provision of clean water, improving health care and tackling hunger.

Communicating this connection can in turn drive uptake of certification, said Mr Punja.

“SDGS have increasingly become a policy guide for the world’s businesses and public authorities to show their purpose as an entity has wider benefits for society,” he said. “So they provide an excellent opportunity to communicate the wider positive benefits of verified sustainable/certified tropical timber trade to a sustainable production and consumption framework that is becoming increasingly widely adopted worldwide.”

If you are interested in using the materials or indeed have other ideas for the campaign then get in touch with Anand Punja, FSC European Director (a.punja@fsc.org).

ATIBT among partners backing PEFC in Congo Basin

Congo river, © Klas Sander, coutersy Danzer

The Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC) is ‘scaling up’ its drive in the Congo Basin region to grow uptake of certified sustainable forest management, working with international stakeholders, the International Tropical Timber Technical Association (ATIBT) and concession holder and timber producer Olam International.

The PEFC highlights that the Congo Basin is among the most important environmental resources on the planet. It has the second largest area of rainforest, comprising 18% of the world total and provides livelihoods for 50 million people.

The PEFC acknowledges that increasing uptake of certification in this region is a challenge, hence this cooperation with partners to make it more accessible.

Operating in the area as the Pan African Forest Certification initiative, PEFC already has three regional members; PAFC-Gabon, PAFC-Cameroon and PAFC-Congo (in the Republic of Congo).

The first to achieve PEFC endorsement was PAFC Gabon, with backing from the ATIBT and  IDH, The Sustainable Trade Initiative supporting auditor training and preparing concessions for forest management audits. The first PAFC Gabon sustainable forest management certificate was issued to Precious Woods in 2018. This was followed by award of two PEFC chain of custody certificates.

Managing Director Benoît Jobbé-Duval said the ATIBT backs the PEFC’s programme to open up third-party certification in the Congo Basin and enable more operators to be certified, adding that the Central African Forest Commission supports expansion of the PAFC to its other member countries.

“It’s strategically important that a second certification system is implemented in the sub-region as soon as possible, to cover a wider market and reach more consumers than today” he said. “In terms of development and implementation, this regional approach will result in economies of scale, minimising the overall costs of certification for companies. The regional strategy to develop a detailed and operational forest management standard for companies and auditors is also innovative and could subsequently be applied in other tropical regions of the world.”

As part of its project in the area, PEFC representatives have also visited the Central African Republic and Democratic Republic of Congo to meet a range of stakeholders. A regional PEFC/PEFC office is also planned.

For more on the PAFC regional strategy click here.