The featured solutions promote the sustainable management and use of forest resources for economic development and help maintain and enhance the supply of ecosystem services.

Gabon’s commitment to FSC certification

The government of Gabon talked about its commitment to ensure all forest concessions operating in the country are FSC-certified by 2022 at a side event on July 5, 2020.

ATIBT- Association Technique Internationale des Bois Tropicaux, a trade association representing the private tropical forest sector organised the parallel event, which examined conditions and perspectives for a sustainable wood economy.

This commitment is in line with the government’s economic transformation strategy, and its ambition to become a key player in sustainable tropical timber. Gabon wants to be a global leader in forest products sourced from responsibly managed forests that value biodiversity and protect its forest ecosystems.

After presenting the government’s wood industry ambitions, Mr David Ingueza, Director of the Agency for the Execution of Activities in the Forestry and Timber Sector (AEAFFB) restated Gabon’s commitment to rolling out generalised forest and value chain certification under the FSC certification scheme.

He further listed key actions the government has taken in the last two years to hasten the delivery of this promise, including:

  • The training of state agents in the Ministry of Water and Forests on FSC certification,
  • The drafting of the Gabon forest certification roadmap with the support of FSC, and
  • The adoption and implementation of fiscal incentives, and the launch of the implementation of the Gabon National Wood Traceability System (GNWTS).

At the same event, George Akwah, FSC Congo Basin Coordinator, made a presentation on market opportunities and constraints for FSC-certified tropical timber and wood products.

In his intervention, he discussed how to address market and policy barriers to sustainable tropical forest products. George highlighted the need for governments, wood producers, and sectoral actors to work together to change the narrative about tropical timber.

He urged parties to promote the benefits of sustainably sourced wood to the people in the Congo Basin. According to George these communication and outreach efforts, associated with the demonstration of the positive impacts of certified forests, will increase market certified tropical forest products.

The Gorilla Forest

July 5, 2022, ended with the projection of the documentary film, IDJANGA: the gorilla forest. The film illustrates, with evidence, the advantages of FSC-certified forests and their benefits to biodiversity and local communities in Gabon.

The 52-minute documentary takes viewers to the Southeast of Gabon, at the heart of a Compagnie Equatoriale des Bois (CEB)-Precious Woods Gabon concession certified by FSC, where cherished endangered species such as gorillas are protected in a nearly 6,000 km2 surface area.

A total of 90 people attended the film broadcast event.

FSC Solutions

On July 7, 2022, FSC led a side event on the theme “understanding FSC solutions to strengthen the value and contribution of Congo Basin forests to sustainable economies and the wellbeing of society”.

During the event, FSC introduced a range of its solutions being deployed across the world and in the Congo Basin to strengthen the governance of forests for people and the economy.

The solutions help address the climate challenge and strengthen tropical forest product value chains in traditional and emerging markets.

These include:

  • Solutions and tools for sustainable management of forests under FSC certification, such as FSC principles and criteria for forest stewardship,
  • Solutions and tools to protect and enhance biodiversity and ecosystem services, such as the high conservation values (HCVs) or the ecosystem services procedure,
  • Solutions adapted for community and smallholder managed forests, and
  • Solutions to manage risks, prevent negative environmental impacts and fraud, and market solutions for sustainable value chains.

The event started with a session led by the FSC Congo Basin team, including George Akwah, FSC Congo Basin Coordinator; Esteban Toja, FSC Congo Basin Certification Advisor; and William Lawyer, Policy and Standards Manager,

A panel discussion that followed the session featured Harrison Kojwang, FSC Africa Regional Director, and Belmond Tchoumba, Central Africa Forest Programme Coordinator at the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) Central Africa Regional Programme Office (CARPO) in Cameroon.

The panel focused on smallholder and community forests certification tools, ecosystem services and high conservation value procedures.

Speaking about ecosystem services, Belmond Tchoumba, told participants the approach benefits both the state, communities, and forest companies.

He said that it brings new opportunities for companies to show more corporate social responsibility.

In that regard, WWF is supporting select timber sector companies to improve their management systems and apply the ecosystem services procedure to demonstrate their impacts on biodiversity and forest ecosystem- conservation.

This ecosystem approach drew numerous reactions from the audience, among which were questions and comments about the process and how timber companies and small-holder forest managers, the state, and communities could take advantage of the model.

Harrison Kojwang highlighted the importance of ecosystem services in forests managed under FSC certification. As ecosystem services become increasingly popular, there is a need to demonstrate how compliance with its principles and practices helps sectoral actors.  

Harrison Kojwang outlined the case of the Uganda Wildlife Authority that has opted to certify two national parks using the FSC forest management standard, where logging is not the objective.

The certification of the protected area gives the opportunity to put a premium on the protection and enhancement of ecosystem services, for which verified claims can be made and sold to the environmental markets.

This has the potential to influence protected areas across Africa since discerning ecotourists could target certified parks and ecosystem service claims could contribute much needed additional funds for management.

Other discussions focused on FSC certification and its benefits to both the state, companies, and local communities.

The side event also highlighted how FSC standards are developed and showed how countries such as Gabon are adopting the FSC certification to strengthen their forest management systems.