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Thursday, 01 August 2019
FSC®-certified charcoal from Namibia helps root out invasive species

Namibian bush

FSC-certified charcoalfrom Namibia exported to Europe consists exclusively of thorn bushes. The invasive species threatens the natural ecosystem there.

The coal is FSC-certified and therefore comes from responsible sources: In addition to long term economic viability and ecological responsibility, FSC also ensures better working conditions for workers. Worldwide, charcoal is a growing industry. Each year in Germany alone approximately 250,000 tons of grill charcoal are used. This should be reason enough to consider the origin of the charcoal. The growth in charcoal demand has also led to an increase in illegally harvested wood,primarily from the tropics and virgin forests in Europe, Africa and South America.There are consumer concerns that buying charcoal from Africa will contribute to deforestation.The consumer can identify charcoal from legal,socially and ecologically responsible forestry by looking for the FSC label.The Forest Stewardship Council® only certifies charcoal if the manufacturer can prove that it complies with the FSC requirements. FSC is committed to ecological forest management, in which social aspects such as occupational health and safety of workers or the rights of indigenous communities play a central role. FSC-certified companies are regularly inspected by external auditors from accredited certification bodies.Charcoal from bushes?In a new project, the German supermarket chain ALDI are now offering charcoal made exclusively from bushes in Namibia. These bushes are often thorn bushes and invasive tree species. They are problematic because of their rapid spread which in turn endangers the local environment, negatively impacting biodiversity, threatened species and groundwater. According to experts, an agricultural area of 30-45 million hectares is already affected,which is approximately 30% of Namibia's total land area. (Source GIZ: Project number: 2011.2200.1: Bush biomass in Namibia, commissioned by: German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ)).So far, clearing of the bushes has been costly and time-consuming. According to the GIZ, Commercial farms have utilized chemical measures to combat bushes,whilst the government has financed small-scale, labour-intensive bush clearance on state farms. So far, efforts to stop the spread of bushes and invasive thorns have been insufficient. Local infrastructure and appropriate technologies are insufficient to promote the use of biomass in an economic and environmentally responsible way. FSC makes this goal possible! FSC certifies land with bush thickened areas along with organisations in the supply chain there by ensuring that the barbecue charcoal comes from responsible sources.How can charcoal improve the social situation in Namibia?The added value of the sold biomass has a positive effect on Namibian society in many respects: All activities from harvesting of bushes to the production of charcoal and packaging are carried out exclusively in Namibia. This creates jobs and added value in the country whilst ensuring greater transparency in the supply chain. In rural areas in particular, where bush thickening is most severe, it encroached on animal habitats and human settlements. The selective harvesting and thinning of encroacher and invasive tree species ensure a secure habitat for biodiversity and employment for workers.The FSC Forest Management standards ensure that worker’s rights are respected, for example by stipulating that FSC-certified companies must offer their employees safe working conditions.With the FSC-certified charcoal in ALDI's product range, bush clearance is economically profitable and at the same time creates jobs and economic growth in Namibia.

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