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FLEGT and Certification Workshop in Gabon

Jul 08 2011

FLEGT“Gabon is among the very few tropical countries that have developed a national sustainable forest management standard, with international recognition through PEFC endorsement”, said Sarah Price, Head of Projects & Development Unit at PEFC International, at a recent workshop in Libreville, Gabon. “This makes Gabon a true leader in the tropics, offering great opportunities but also bringing with it responsibilities.”

The statement was made at the recent “FLEGT and Forest Certification” workshop, organized by PAFC Gabon in Libreville.  Stakeholders from more than 20 organizations, representing public and private sector as well as civil society attended the meeting.

The FLEGT (Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade) Action Plan of the European Union provides a number of measures to exclude illegal timber from markets, to improve the supply of legal timber and to increase the demand for responsible wood products. A central element of FLEGT are Voluntary Partnership Agreements (VPA) to ensure legal timber trade and support good forest governance in the partner countries.  FLEGT VPA negotiations between the European Union and Gabon have started in October 2010 and are of significant interest to the timber sector.

Forest certification systems such as PEFC go beyond the scope of FLEGT by not only requiring legality of forestry operations, but also providing assurances of sustainable forest management.  The objective of the meeting was therefore to discuss the relationship between FLEGT and PEFC certification, and in how far FLEGT may facilitate efforts by the forest industry to provide not only legal, but also certified, sustainable timber to international markets.

Following opening remarks from Sylvain Nze Nguema, Deputy Director General of Water and Forestry Administration and Rose Ondo, PAFC Gabon, Ms. Price expressed her hope that “the forest sector in Gabon will take advantage of the national forest certification system local stakeholders have already invested in and that is currently available for use”.  

“There are some important overlaps between forest certification and FLEGT VPAs, and local stakeholders can benefit from the lessons learnt during the development of the Gabonese forest certification system in the set-up of a potential future national timber licensing system,” Ms. Price pointed out.  

Participants  learned more about FLEGT from Richelieu Zue Obame the FLEGT Focal Point.  Christine Nkene, PAFC Cameroon, compared various elements of the FLEGT and PEFC processes and outlined the various similarities especially in the system development process, as well as some of the main differences.  The meeting concluded with a number of recommendations on ways to advance PEFC certification in Gabon.

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PEFC Certified

Forests area: 303 million ha
Forest owners: > 750,000
Companies (CoC): > 18,800

(as of June 2017)
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