With its head office in Nairobi Kenya, BGF aims to become the biggest tree-planting company active in Arid and Semi-arid Lands (ASAL). The company has its field operations in Kiambere, Seven Forks, and Sosoma areas of Kitui County and Nyongoro in Lamu County in Kenya, as well as in Dokolo and the surrounding districts in Northern Uganda, with prospects to expand its operations to the agro-pastoral zone of Karamoja.

BGF’s mission through ‘Social Entrepreneurship’, is- to plant as many trees as there are people on this planet. Its vision is- ‘to eradicate poverty and corruption in Africa’ targeting to work with all the smallholder farmers in the areas where BGF operates.
As part of its vision and future objectives, BGF has decided to seek an international recognition on the international timber market for selling sustainably produced timber products, and for this reason, BGF started on its journey towards FSC certification.
‘There are different certification schemes through which this can be achieved and BGF has chosen the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), the leading player in the sector’, said, Mr. Vandenabeele, the Executive Director of Forestry at BGF.
The initial step for the process was to hire an intern to document all requirements that the FSC standards prescribe for the path towards certification.
The second step was marked by the field visit on the 10th and 11th of March 2020, of two prominent FSC representatives, notably Dr. Harrison O. Kojwang (FSC Regional Director for Africa) and Mr. Paul Opanga (Labour Issues Manager at the FSC) to BGF’s plantations of Melia volkesii, locally known as Mukau-a hardwood from the mahogany family, in Kiambere region,as well as a visit to several farmers enlisted on BGF’s Seven Forks farmers’ programme.
The Seven Forks farmers programme, is a collaboration between BGF and the smallholder farmers to plant Melia volkensii, on their farms. Upon fulfilling a set of criteria, the farmers are supplied with the tree seedlings, supported with technical training, and are guaranteed market once the trees mature.

During the two days’ field visit, the FSC representatives were accompanied by the BGF’s Executive Director of Forestry, Mr. Jan Vandenabeele and his Deputy, Mr Jean-Paul Deprins in order to furnish the FSC team with quality information about BGF’s afforestation programmes-(establishing a stand of trees in an area where there was no previous tree cover). At the end of the two days, Dr. Kojwang and Mr. Opanga also had an opportunity to visit the award-winning school of phase 4 of the Green Initiative Challenge (GIC) which is a tree planting programme with schools in the Seven Forks area.
Dr. Kojwang and Mr. Opanga explained to the BGF executives, the key steps to acquiring FSC certification and advised that BGF can pursue group certification.
‘The visit was extremely fruitful and constitutes a first milestone towards certification. It will be followed up in the next months by a meeting at BGF’s head office in Nairobi to assess the next steps to follow’, added Mr. Vandenabeele.

Mr. Vandenabeele says that FSC certification might be seen as a complex process since it looks at all aspects related to afforestation, not only technically but also with regards to the aspects of legality, social issues such as workers’ rights and health and safety measures as well as the environmental aspects, but was confident that by putting efforts and resources in the process, BGF will obtain the FSC certification.

The writer is Editor-in-Chief of Miti magazine and the Executive Director of Forestry of Better Globe Forestry
For more information about BGF http://www.betterglobeforestry.com/