At a side event on day two of the Africa Climate Week 2022 in Libreville, Gabon, on August 30, 2022, FSC showcased its stewardship solutions for climate and ecosystem smart forest management.

Prof. Lee White CBE, Republic of Gabon's Minister of Forests, Oceans, Environment, and Climate Change;  Ségolène Royal, Former French Minister of Environment and president of the Nongovernmental organisation, Désirs d'Avenir pour la Planète; and 80 other participants (including 6 online) attended the event.

The event focused on FSC’s climate and ecosystem services, a concrete, innovative, sustainable solution that can strengthen Africa’s climate efforts.

FSC's climate and ecosystems services

Asger Olesen, Chief Climate and Ecosystems Services Officer, FSC International, presented the FSC ecosystem services procedure and the supporting business model to enable its effective roll out as a market-based instrument. He described ecosystem services as benefits that people obtain from nature as he presented the solution to the event's audience.

He highlighted that forests have many positive effects on society, such as stable clean water supplies, productive soil, and carbon sequestration.

According to Asger, FSC’s ecosystem services framework enables FSC-certified concessions to document, demonstrate, and promote the beneficial effects of responsible forest management practices on ecosystem services. To increase commercial value for people that sustainably manage forests and take steps to conserve forest ecosystem services, he stated, "these documented positive impacts aim to enable payments for ecosystem services and provide access to other advantages”.

A business model in southern Africa

Presenting the business case for ecosystem services from Southern Africa, Manushka Moodley, Coordinator, FSC Southern Africa, said the procedure has been used to restore the capacity of watersheds across 66 hectares in a communally managed area and that of private commercial farmers in South Africa.  

She said the approach included the conservation of natural forests whilst carrying out a programme to eradicate alien invasive tree species and putting in place a strong monitoring system to prevent the regrowth of problematic trees.

According to Manushka Moodley, independent audits have established the model's benefits and developed estimates on the amount of water restored. Manushka also presented another case that uses the procedure to restore natural forest characteristics in Namibia.

Benefits of ecosystems services

Without ecosystem services, there is no water, said Prof. Lee White CBE, to attendees. He said the government is optimistic about FSC’s procedure and will be keen to adopt its ecosystem strategy. Speaking about certification, Prof. Lee said the government made a commitment to work with FSC because it brings an indispensable monitoring approach to ensuring sustainable forest management in Gabon while increasing the financial gains for certified companies as they sell certified forest products at a premium price.

Talking of Gabon’s relationship with FSC, Prof. Lee White stated, "Our collaboration is solid," in reference to the government's commitment to ensuring that all forest concessions in Gabon are FSC-certified. He talked about the challenges the government has faced in implementing the FSC certification but noted that there have been fresh development in the past six months and that four new FSC forest management certificates are in the pipeline. In his view, achieving FSC certification will help African economies grow their share of the sustainable timber market.

George Akwah, Coordinator, FSC Congo Basin, the moderator of the event, concurs.

He said mounting data evidence and practical ground experience demonstrate that FSC-certified forest concessions are essential sanctuaries for biodiversity and ecosystem services. He added that the management of forests calls for a new economic paradigm.

"Gabon's experience is generating a strong case study that can be used as an illustration to other countries.” He stated that "one of the vehicles to support the construction of this new forest economy model is the FSC certification.”

Harrison Kojwang, Director, FSC Africa, thanked Prof. Lee White for the government’s dedication and efforts, and urged Gabon to adopt the ecosystems procedure to certify its national parks. As an example of a government that has used the process to certify national parks, he cited Uganda.

FSC Africa benefits from the support of the Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation -