Timber companies in Cameroon commit to responsible forestry
Three timber companies — Pallisco, Decolvenaere, and Transformation Reef Cameroon — are the first in the region to have applied for membership in the Central Africa Forest & Trade Network (CAFTN), a part of WWF's Global & Forest Trade Network (GFTN).
The companies' membership announcement came during the 2nd Central African Heads of State Forest Summit, being held in Brazzaville from 4–5 February 2005.
“By joining the CAFTN, we reiterate our commitment to conserve the forests we manage and ensuring we make a lasting contribution to the local economy," said Jules Esquenet, Decolvenaere's manager in Cameroon. "Moving towards credible forest certification is a huge challenge, but we are committed, and with WWF's support, we will achieve it.”
The CAFTN aims to build the capacity of producers to supply legal and sustainable wood, and achieve credible certification. To qualify as members, each company will now undergo an independent audit of their operations and prepare timebound action plans to achieve credible certification for their forest concessions and phase out the purchase of wood from unsustainable sources.
"Governments in the region are taking bold steps to conserve the Congo Basin forests," said WWF International's Director General Dr Claude Martin. "International agencies are backing them by providing financial support. NGOs and other organizations are contributing their own resources and technical expertise."
"The private sector can also join in this venture by achieving credible certification in the forest concessions they manage and ensuring no wood from illegal or unsustainable sources enters their supply chain," he added.
Through the CAFTN, WWF offers timber producers committed to responsible forestry advice, information, technical support, market recognition, and direct links to responsible buyers who are also GFTN members.
The three companies together manage over half a million hectares of forest concessions, including forests with high conservation values. They export about 120,000 cubic meters of sawn timber to European markets — about 20 per cent of EU imports come from Cameroon — mainly to France, Spain, the Netherlands, and the UK.
"Wood markets in the Netherlands and other northern countries are increasingly demanding FSC certification for their supplies, be it oak, pine or tropical species," said Paul Reef, Administrator for Transformation Reef Cameroon. "With support from the CAFTN, we hope to be able to supply FSC-certified timber by the end of 2006.”
"We are committed to acheiving the highest standards of sustainable forest management. The prospect of future credible certification of our forestry practices and products is keeping us on track, and we welcome WWF's support,” added Michel Rougeron, head of Pallisco in Cameroon.
The addition of these three leading tropical hardwood producers to the GFTN will complete several GFTN buyer- supply chains leading from the forest floor in the Congo Basin to shop floors across Europe. These trade or market links will contribute directly to the conservation of one of the world's greatest natural heritage areas.
"WWF believes that responsible forestry practices will help conserve the forests of the Congo Basin so that they continue to provide for both people and wildlife," said Laurent Magloire Somé, WWF Regional Representative for Central Africa.
"The development of markets for credibly certified forest products will contribute to the development of national economies and improvement of local communities' livelihoods."
1. The Global Forest & Trade Network or GFTN is WWF’s initiative to eliminate illegal logging, improve the management of the world's valuable and threatened forests, and promote credible forest certification. By providing support to and facilitating trade links between progressive forest industry companies, the GFTN seeks to create market conditions that will help conserve the world’s forests while providing economic and social benefits for the businesses and people that depend on them.
2. The Congo Basin forests contain more than half of Africa's animal species, including most of the forest elephants left in the continent and the entire world population of lowland gorilla. They also provide food, materials and shelter to some 20 million people. Estimates indicate that the region loses 1.5 million hectares of forests — about half the size of Belgium — each year due mainly to illegal and destructive logging. Other threats include poaching and smuggling of wildlife, and the illicit bushmeat trade. If present trends continue, two-thirds of the Congo Basin forests could be lost within fifty years.
3. Pallisco, a French-owned company operating in Cameroon since 1972, is managing five forest concessions totalling 300,000ha in the eastern part of the country. It exports timber to Spain and France, as well as to GFTN members in the UK.
4. Decolvenaere, daughter company of Belgium-based Decolvenaere — a member of the Belgian Forest & Trade Network — is operating two forest concessions totaling 135,000ha in eastern Cameroon. It mainly sells timber to the Belgium and the Netherlands, where its customers include a GFTN member company.
5. Transformation Reef Cameroon is a subsidiary of Dutch company Reef Hout, a founding member of the Netherlands Forest & Trade Network. Tranformation Reef Cameroon ownsrecently acquired a 120,000ha forest concession in central Cameroon, and sells timber to several GFTN members in the Netherlands.
6. European Union imports of tropical hardwood sawn timber in 2003 were 614,000 cubic metres from Cameroon (Source: hardwoodmarkets.com; Eurostat). The three companies' total annual export of 120,000 cubic metres of sawn timber to Europe makes up about 20% of EU imports from Cameroon.
For further information:
Elie Hakizumwami, Regional Forest Officer
WWF Central Africa Regional Forest Coordinator
Tel: +237 221 62 67
Darius Sarshar, Coordinator
WWF Global Forest & Trade Network Producer Group
Tel: +44 1865 427719