Timber companies join WWF's responsible forest management network in Congo | WWF

Timber companies join WWF's responsible forest management network in Congo

Posted on 20 June 2006
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Yaoundé, Cameroon – Three major logging companies have joined WWF’s Central Africa Forest & Trade Network (CAFTN), agreeing to sustainably manage up to 700,000ha of natural forest in the Congo Basin.

Under an agreement signed with WWF, the three new CAFTN members — Groupe Decolvenaere, Pallisco and Transformation Reef Cameroun — have committed their companies to responsible forest management and to obtaining Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certification for their operations and supplies.

“We are well engaged and aim at attaining the highest possible level of good forest management,” said Michel Rougeron, Director of Pallisco. “The prospect of a credible certification of our forest management and our products helps us to move ahead with this engagement."

These key timber producers are the first in the region to join the newly launched CAFTN, a branch of WWF’s Global Forest & Trade Network (GFTN). By becoming members, the companies receive technical assistance from WWF and partners to help them achieve certification for their forestry practices. The network monitors their progress and provides market links to purchasers of legally-produced and certified products.

“In The Netherlands as well as in other European countries, the timber market demands more and more FSC certified products," said Paul Reef, Director General of Transformaton Reef Cameroun. "With WWF support within the framework of CAFTN, we are hoping to be able to supply FSC certified wood not long from now."

The commitment of these companies to work toward certified forestry is a significant milestone in the socio-economic development of Cameroon and the well-being of the local population. By embracing sustainable forest management, these companies will also be contributing to the conservation of Congo Basin forests, the second largest tropical forest in the world.

One of the world’s largest remaining areas of intact rainforests, Congo Basin forests are a haven for indigenous peoples, provide habitat for endangered species like elephants and gorillas, sequester carbon, and safeguard water quality.

“WWF is convinced that the adoption of sustainable forest management schemes by these companies will contribute greatly to the conservation of the Congo Basin forests for the benefit of the people and also the wildlife,” said Laurent Somé, Regional Representative of WWF in Central Africa.

WWF recognizes that responsible forest management and sustainable commercialization of wood plays an important role in the economic growth of tropical countries and poverty reduction strategies for people dependent on the forest for their livelihoods.

“The development of markets for credibly certified tropical wood will contribute to improving the national economy and also improve livelihoods of local communities,” added Elie Hakizumwami, WWF's CAFTN coordinator.

“The international timber market is increasingly asking for certified wood, and we are lucky to be able to work with the support of WWF in the framework of CAFTN,” said Guy Decolvenaere, Director General of Groupe Decolvenaere. “We hope to supply FSC certified products in the market from the Congo basin not long from now.”

• 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.

• 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 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.

• Pallisco-CIFM, a French-owned company operating in Cameroon since 1972, is managing five forest concessions totalling about 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.

• Decolvenaere Cameroon, daughter company of Belgium-based Decolvenaere – a member of the Belgian Forest & Trade Network – is operating two forest concessions totaling about 138,000ha in the south-east of Cameroon. It mainly sells timber to Belgium and the Netherlands, where its customers include a GFTN member company.

• Transformation Reef Cameroon (TRC) is a subsidiary of Dutch company Reef Hout, a founding member of the Netherlands Forest & Trade Network. Tranformation Reef Cameroon is managing four logging concessions totalling about 270,000ha in the Coastal and Central Provinces of Cameroon, and sells timber to several GFTN members in The Netherlands.

For more information:
Elie Hakizumwami, Regional Forest Officer
WWF Central Africa Regional Programme
Tel: +237 221 7084
E-mail: ehHakizumwami@wwfcarpo.org

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Strangler fig (Ficus zarzalensis), Congo Basin.
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