Congo Basin: SFPGA Yields Effectively Managed ForestIn partnership with WWF’s Global Forest & Trade Network (GFTN), the Sustainable Forest Products Global Alliance (SFPGA) has made effective forest management a reality in Africa’s Congo Basin. One of the world’s largest conservation organizations, WWF’s mission is to stop the degradation of the planet’s natural environment and to build a future in which humans live in harmony with nature.
As a public/private partnership that seeks to make markets work for forests and people, the SFPGA is a program of the United States Agency for International Development’s (USAID) Global Development Alliance. SFPGA has invested 6.5 million USD over the last six years in support of GFTN. GFTN has leveraged this support with that of the public and private sector to 33.8 million USD to promote its mission of transforming the global forest products industry into a force for saving the world’s valuable and threatened forests.
Over the last two years, 409,572 hectares of forest area managed by participants of the GFTN in Central Africa have been certified. The forest hectares have been certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), the organization responsible for setting standards that represent the world’s strongest system for guiding forest management toward sustainable outcomes. GFTN is working in Cameroon, Gabon, Central African Republic, DR Congo, and the Republic of Congo, with committed participants to increase the area of certified forest under effective management as well as the availability of products from these forests. Of the total FSC-certified forest area found in the Congo Basin, GFTN participants account for approximately 52.6%.
By the end of 2008, the number of effectively managed forest hectares in the Congo Basin through GFTN-Central Africa participants is expected to reach upwards of 1.2 million. In Cameroon alone, where SFPGA support has enabled increased GFTN activity, participants hold approximately 85% of the total FSC-certified area. This remarkable growth in responsible forest management within the region is the direct result of USAID support and partnership.
Establishing GFTN-Central Africa in 2002, the SFPGA enabled producers in the Congo Basin to benefit from sustainable forest management. The innovative ‘stepwise’ approach as supported by SFPGA, introduced producers to a manageable method of achieving credible certification through a series of targeted actions. The stepwise approach addresses situations wherein the protection of valuable and threatened forests is critical but remains difficult as is the case in the Congo Basin. The implementation of this stepwise approach by producers in the Congo Basin has allowed responsible trade relationships between these producers and other GFTN participants to grow. Facilitated by GFTN, participant companies supply certified products or products in progress to certification. These market links have yielded approximately 1.7 million USD in trade relationships with GFTN-Central Africa participants. The economic benefits are not limited to trade dollars, as sustainable employment and community development are also products of responsibly managed forest operations in the region.
SFPGA is helping to transform the global forest products market by increasing the demand for legally produced products from well-managed forests by global businesses and other organizations. Market links between GFTN participants, particularly those from U.S. and EU countries, are also increasing market pressure against illegal logging and driving certification on the ground in the Congo Basin. Efforts in the field made by GFTN, supported through the SFPGA, have built a foundation on which Congo Basin producers are better able to fulfill the demand of the markets for certified material.
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Hisayo Fujikawa (email@example.com)