Boost for wise forest management in the Congo

Posted on 01 July 2013    
Tropical Rain Forest. Vegetation on riverbank - moist forest of the Western Congo Basin at the edge of Minkebe Reserve. Gabon
© Martin Harvey / WWF
In an important boost for the conservation and sustainable management of the Congo basin forests, the total Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified area in Cameroon has exceeded one million hectares (ha)– taking the total area of FSC-certified forest in the Congo to over five million ha.

WWF helped found the FSC and promotes FSC-certification as the best available tool to help secure forest management that is socially, economically and environmentally sound.

The newly certified areas, covering 285,667 ha, are managed by the Société Forestière et Industrielle de la Doumé, a Rougier subsidiary and participant in WWF’s Global Forest & Trade Network (GFTN), and located in the Mbang area of eastern Cameroon, home to the Baka community, considered among the oldest residents of Cameroon’s rainforests. These forests are also rich in biodiversity. This award marks the first substantial increase of FSC certified area in the Congo Basin in several years.

In 1999, WWF worked with Cameroon to convene the countries of the Congo River basin at theYaoundé Summit where the countries committed to conserve their forests. WWF now runs a Congo Forest Initiative to conserve the forests which are a top conservation priority for their biodiversity values, importance for indigenous and local communities, and their role in regulating global climate. This initiative aims to both protect the forest areas of highest conservation value in protected area networks, and ensure commercial forest management is sustainable, using the FSC system.

FSC certification ensures the forest management is 1) environmentally appropriate – protecting and maintaining natural communities and high conservation value forests 2) socially beneficial – respecting the rights of workers, communities and indigenous peoples and 3) economically viable – building markets, adding best value and creating equitable access to benefits.

In similar news on progress towards an environmentally sustainable and legal international timber trade, new laws governing timber imports into the European Union (EU) require the 27 EU member states to identify the country of origin and legality of imported timber. A similar law is now also in place in Australia, modeled on the EU legislation. If effectively implemented, such legislation can achieve a major reduction in the amount of illegal and unsustainably-produced timber imported every year into the EU, and take pressure off critical habitats, protect local forest community livelihoods and boost the legitimate timber trade, where independent certification according to the standards of the FSC is the best available guarantee of sustainable timber production.

WWF challenges EU Member States to take the enforcement of the EU Timber Regulation seriously and stop the illegal trade of wood based products in the EU. This includes the introduction of effective sanctions and an inspection system that works.

Tropical Rain Forest. Vegetation on riverbank - moist forest of the Western Congo Basin at the edge of Minkebe Reserve. Gabon
© Martin Harvey / WWF Enlarge
Forest Stewardship Council
© FSC Enlarge

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