Congo Basin Development Initiative
Since 2011, PEFC has been engaged in a number of initiatives intended to promote uptake of forest certification in Africa, with a particular focus on Central Africa. Thanks to the support of PPECF-COMIFAC and ECOFORAF, we are now strengthening our activities in Cameroon, Gabon and the Republic of Congo, as well as widening our support to the Democratic Republic of Congo and the Central African Republic.
The world’s second largest rainforest can be found in the Congo Basin region of Central Africa; this not only makes up 18% of the planet’s remaining tropical rainforest cover, but is also home to a unique biodiversity capital, with nearly half the species known on Earth. At the same time, these forests are an essential part of the lives of the fifty million people living in the region who depend on the forest for their livelihoods.
While forest certification has been present in Africa for some time, so far its uptake has proven to be a challenge. PEFC therefore continues to work with a variety of partners to develop an alternative to the current method of certification for sustainable forest management - both for Central Africa, and Africa as a whole - in order to make certification accessible and effective for all forest owners.
PAFC: the journey so far
Working under the common name PAFC – Pan-African Forest Certification, we already have two PEFC members in the region: PAFC Gabon and PAFC Cameroon.
PAFC Gabon successfully achieved PEFC endorsement of its national system in 2009, becoming our first endorsed system in Africa. The system was re-endorsed five years later in 2014, thanks to the support of ECOFORAF (support project for eco-certification of concessions in Central Africa), an initiative funded by the French Fund for the Global Environment (FFEM) and managed by our International Stakeholder member ATIBT. Since then, the first pre-audit since the country achieved PEFC endorsement has been carried out in the four Gabonese concessions of Rougier.
PAFC Cameroon is currently developing its national system, a process which has benefitted from the financial support of the PPECF (the Program for the Promotion of Certified Forest Operations). The development process was officially launched in 2014 with the country’s first stakeholder forum. PAFC Cameroon is now conducting pilots tests of the Cameroonian forest management standard.
In the Republic of Congo, the first step towards the development of a national system was taken with an agreement between Minister Henri Djombo, from the Ministry of Forest Economy and Sustainable Development of the Republic of Congo, PEFC International, the PPECF and ATIBT. PPECF will finance this development, joining the support already provided by the FFEM through ECOFORAF.
PAFC expansion in Central Africa through PPECF-COMIFAC program support
In 2015 we significantly increased our activities in Central Africa, thanks once again to the support of PPECF-COMIFAC.
The first step of this project is to improve the communication around PEFC certification in the region, focusing initially on the countries that either have or are developing a national forest certification system, namely Gabon, Cameroon and the Republic of Congo. Key activities towards this goal involve the development and publication of documents in French, including a brochure on PAFC and PEFC in the Congo Basin and the Toolkit for the development of a national forest certification system.
In order to continue expanding the reach of PAFC in Africa, we began working in the two other countries with a significant forestry economy in the region: the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and the Central African Republic (CAR).
To support and prepare them on their journey towards the development of a national forest certification system, the basic documents needed to start this process - stakeholder mapping, standard development procedures, and first working version of the forest management standard - will be produced. The development of these documents will enable the system development to start more rapidly, as well as significantly reduce its cost.
At the same time, representatives from PEFC International have carried out visits to these two countries, CAR and DRC, to meet the various local stakeholders to raise their awareness of sustainable forest management, certification and the advantages of a national certification system. We also visited PAFC Cameroon to provide them with additional support on the development of their national system.
All these activities will also be in preparation for the implementation of a regional PAFC/PEFC office in order to support the Congo Basin countries in their advance towards the sustainable management of their forests.
PEFC formalized its partnership with the Association Technique Internationale des Bois Tropicaux (ATIBT), an organization that promotes best practice in the timber industry, by becoming a member of the organization, building on from 2012 when ATIBT joined PEFC as an International Stakeholder member.
This reciprocal membership has enabled PEFC to gain higher status at several ATIBT events, including the International Forum on the Sustainable Development of the Wood Industry in the Congo Basin held in Brazzaville in 2013. During this event, representatives from PEFC International, alongside PAFC Gabon and PAFC Cameroon, were on hand to provide firsthand experience of forest certification in the Congo Basin.
Congo Basin Forest Partnership
PEFC is a member of the Congo Basin Forest Partnership (CBFP), a network that seeks to contribute to the protection of the region’s biodiversity, promote good forest governance, and improve the population’s living standards.
CBFP is a "Type II" partnership, a voluntary multi-stakeholder initiative that contributes to the implementation of an intergovernmental commitment, and brings together the ten member states of the Central African Forests Commission (COMIFAC), donor agencies, international organizations, NGOs, scientific institutions and representatives from the private sector.
CBFP works in close relationship with COMIFAC, an intergovernmental organization in Central Africa with the objective to promote the conservation and sustainable management of the Congo Basin's forest ecosystems.