NFB now holds the FSC Chain of Custody (COC) and FSC Forest Management certificates upon taking over 12,182ha of Kikonda Forest reserve from Global Woods AG end of 2020.

The forest reserve is located in Kyankwazi district, Western Uganda, and is a catchment for the river Kafu. 80% of the forest reserve is under plantation (pine and eucalyptus), while 20% remains under conservation. It is home to several rare and threatened species such as the African golden cat, leopard, and sitatungas.

According to Mr. Muthu Sidao, the NFB Plantation Manager at the Kikonda Forest Reserve, NFB will continue implementing the initiatives Global Woods has been doing in the area.

"Global Woods had two certificates which the new management has decided to maintain. We will continue to follow the FSC guidelines set for us because this is a good operation to improve our product value. We want to maintain and improve the quality aspects," Noted Mr. Muthu.

NFB has a processing plant in Nakasongola district in Central Uganda, which produces Melamine Faced Boards (MFB) used in the furniture and construction industry. The boards are sold to clients in Kampala city and other parts of Uganda. NFB also exports the boards to other East African countries such as Rwanda, Kenya, and Tanzania.

The company believes that certification comes with many benefits. Branding their products with the FSC logo and conducting their business in a way that respects nature and communities has long-term benefits.

Being new to the forest reserve, NFB wants to maintain a good relationship with the surrounding communities.

"We came to a new environment, and many people here are cattle keepers. Sometimes they burn the grass to allow new grass to sprout. These fires can be a hazard to the plantation," Mr. Muthu says.

Another challenge that the company faces is charcoal burning. Sometimes people encroach on the plantation and cut down the trees for charcoal. Mr. Muthu notes that NFB has already established a community outreach program that supports the people living adjacent to the forest with tree seedlings to help them set up woodlots. This program will help reduce the pressure exerted on the plantation due to the community's high demand for fuelwood.

The company also trains communities in agroforestry and integrated farming. The initiative supports farmers to get maximum yields from the small pieces of land they own.

As of April 2021, Uganda has 40.000 hectares of FSC certified forest and four Forest Management /Chain of custody certificates.

Annah Agasha, the FSC Coordinator for Eastern Africa, confirms that FSC will continue to provide the necessary technical support required by NFB to maintain its FSC certification status.