Thursday, 30 April 2020
A Study to Assess the Economic Impact of IFLs in the Congo Basin
What is the impact in the Congo Basin of the FSC rules for protecting Intact Forest Landscapes (IFL)?
Motion 65 from the 2014 FSC General Assembly famously requires forest managers to protect “the vast majority” of IFLs falling within their concessions.
The motion set a default minimum protection level of 80%, which could be modified by national Standards Development Groups (SDGs). The HCV Regional Working Group for the Congo Basin has proposed 20% as being appropriate to the extremely selective logging practiced in the region, in which well over 90% of the forest in any annual cutting area is left untouched.
However, while acknowledging the significant challenges this was posing to certificate holders operating in tropical forests, in early 2020 the FSC Board of Directors concluded that thresholds as low as 20% were not compatible with the “vast majority” stipulation given in Motion 65 and approved by FSC’s members.
Instead, the FSC Board of Directors recommended that SDGs should propose minimum protection levels of at least 50% to be accepted. The national standards based on 50% thresholds for the Republic of Congo and Cameroon are currently passing through the final stages of approval, with the Gabon national standard not far behind.
IFL protection rules are sure to be a hot topic of discussion at the next General Assembly, with various motions to amend the requirements of Motion 2014/65 in preparation.
When considering these motions many FSC members will be keen to understand what is the impact of these different protection levels on certificate holders operating in the main IFL areas around the world (Canada and Russia’s boreal forests, the Amazon basin and the Congo Basin).
To deliver on this at the 2017 General Assembly motion 34, sponsored by ATIBT, called for a series of studies to be undertaken around the world in these key IFL sites, to assess the economic, social, and environmental impacts of implementing the Motion 2014/65 requirements.
In the Congo Basin, the contract for this study was awarded to a small team led by FORM International. They visited the region in early 2020, meeting many different stakeholders and collecting data, and submitted a draft report to the HCV Regional Working Group in April.
The FSC Congo Basin is waiting for the final report to be available in a few weeks’ time so that it can be shared with all key stakeholders.
Furthermore, the European Sustainable Timber Coalition (STTC)* has just published on its website an article on the issue of LFIs in the Congo Basin in which Kim Carstensen, FSC's General Manager clarifies the FSC position.
For further information please contact Willy Lawyer via fscafrica at fsc point org