Danzer Group and WWF to cooperate

Posted on September, 13 2006

Danzer Group, a global producer of hardwood veneer and lumber, and WWF's Global Forest and Trade Network will begin a cooperation to promote sustainable forest management in Africa, which will see the continent's largest concession area undergoing FSC certification.

Frankfurt, Germany – Danzer Group, a leading global producer of hardwood veneer and lumber, and WWF will start a broad cooperation aimed at promoting sustainable forest management in Africa. As part of this cooperation, Danzer subsidiaries, IFO in the Republic of Congo Brazzaville, and SIFORCO in the Democratic Republic of Congo — which manage a combined total forest area of 3.2 million hectares — are scheduled to be certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) from 2008 onwards. This is the largest concession area in Africa currently being prepared for FSC certification.

Danzer Group has also announced it will join WWF’s Global Forest and Trade Network (GFTN). Danzer is working closely with the conservation organization to draw up a detailed timetable for implementation, including detailed measures for its own managed forest concessions, procurement from third-party suppliers and all sales of African timber. Danzer Group, with its portfolio of subsidiary companies that produce and trade products made from African wood, would become the largest GFTN company of its kind. Globally Danzer Group has production facilities and trading companies in Europe, North and South America, Africa and Asia.

The IFO concession, comprising a total of 1.3 million hectares is scheduled to achieve FSC certification during 2008. Gradual certification of the five SIFORCO concessions totaling nearly 1.9 million hectares is set to begin in 2010.

This schedule for certification will build upon the company’s comprehensive Environmental and Safety Management System (ESMS) as well as Danzer Group’s strict “Procurement Rules African Timber”. The ESMS is based on the ISO 14001:2004 standard and covers the Danzer Group’s entire global African supply chain from forest management and sourcing of timber to the processing and sale of products.

Through its own ESMS, Danzer Group has already met a number of requirements for certification of its own sustainably managed forests. Both IFO and SIFORCO have been granted an independently verified legality certificate by the Swiss auditing company, Société Générale de Surveillance (SGS). The measures and schedule for achieving FSC certification, which will be drawn up by Danzer Group and WWF in the coming months, are a requirement of GFTN membership.

“We look forward to working together within the framework of our membership of WWF’s GFTN and to jointly undertake long-term efforts to effectively promote prudent and responsible forestry in the Central African forests,” says Hans-Joachim Danzer, CEO of Danzer Group. “Illegal logging is a threat to serious producer companies and fair competition on world markets, and must be stopped.”

“Through our joint efforts, WWF and Danzer Group can make a significant contribution to rectifying this situation. We also hope that our joint activities will lead to a better mutual understanding of ecological demands and private economic interests in conjunction with sustainable forest management. By adhering to the requirements set forth in a certificate, customers can rest assured that the wood they buy from us comes from responsibly managed sources. At the same time they are making an important contribution to the economic development of one of the world’s poorest regions.”

Danzer Group and WWF have been in discussions about working together for some time now. WWF has been active in the Congo Basin for many years and has worked to establish and oversee protected areas that would provide safe habitats for endangered species such as gorillas, forest elephants and other wildlife in the region, as well as promote responsible forestry for the benefit of improving the national economy and livelihoods of local communities.

The Congo Basin forests contain more than half of Africa's animal species, including most of the forest elephants left in the continent, and the entire world population of lowland gorilla. The forests also provide food, materials and shelter to some 20 million people. Despite their importance, these forests are threatened by illegal and destructive logging, poaching and smuggling of wildlife, and the illicit bushmeat trade.

“We believe that the cooperation between WWF and Danzer represents an important shift towards responsible forestry for some of the world’s most threatened forests in the Congo Basin” says Per Rosenberg, GFTN Director. “WWF looks forward to working with Danzer to realize their commitment.”

In addition to certification measures for its own concessions, the cooperation with WWF will also cover procurement from third-party suppliers and the trade in African timber by Danzer Group. FSC’s current Controlled Wood Standard, which establishes minimum requirements with respect to legality and responsible forestry, will apply. Danzer Group and WWF will also establish measures aimed at preparing the company’s suppliers to be able to meet the requirements of the Controlled Wood Standard. These measures will be based on Danzer Group’s “Procurement Rules African Timber”, which have been part of the ESMS since 2005. The procurement rules will ensure progressively that African wood supplied by Danzer comes from legally verifiable sources, and will help companies to progress towards sustainable management.

End notes:
1.  Danzer Group operates six veneer factories and five sawmills in Europe, North America and Africa, making it the world’s largest manufacturer of hardwood veneers. These facilities primarily process regional timber to produce high-quality veneers and lumber. A total of 31 sales outlets worldwide take care of customer needs. The Danzer Group employs a workforce of some 4,700 staff and posted a turnover of approximately 418 million euros in 2005. www.danzergroup.com

2.  The Global Forest & Trade Network or GFTN is WWF’s initiative to eliminate illegal logging, improve the management of the world's valuable and threatened forests, and promote credible forest certification. By providing support to and facilitating trade links between progressive forest industry companies, the GFTN seeks to create market conditions that will help conserve the world’s forests while providing economic and social benefits for the businesses and people that depend on them.

3. In 2003, WWF launched the Producers Group (Forest and Trade Network) Initiative for Central and West Africa with the aim of eliminating illegal logging, improving the management of the world's valuable and threatened forests, and promoting credible forest certification within Africa.

For more information:
Frank Schumann, Danzer Group
tel: +49 (0)69 242 86 140
email: frank.schumann@pleon.com

Markus Radday, WWF Germany
tel: +49 (0)69-79144-189
email: radday@wwf.de

Johannes Zahnen, GFTN-Germany
tel: +49 (0)69-79144-191
email: zahnen@wwf.de

A trilateral agreement signed between Cameroon, Gabon, and Congo will protect 14.6 million hectares of forests, or 7.5 per cent of the entire Congo Basin.
© WWF / Martin Harvey