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.