A first for PEFC in Africa
27 April 2009 PEFC system news
The Gabonese Forest Certification Scheme (PAFC Gabon) is the first African scheme to meet PEFC's sustainability benchmark requirements.
As of today, timber-based products originating from PAFC Gabon certified forests are permitted to use the prestigious PEFC label, thereby gaining access to all global markets requiring PEFC certification as proof for sustainability of forest management practices.
"Currently, over 90% of the world's certified forests are located in temperate forests in the Northern hemisphere," explained Ben Gunneberg, PEFC Secretary General. "Discussions, however, focus on sustainable forest management practices of tropical forests in the Southern hemisphere as these offer the most benefits to tackling some of society's biggest challenges, including addressing climate change, combating deforestation and forest degradation, and maintaining the world's precious biodiversity."
"More than two-thirds of Gabon is forested and the country is home to some of Africa's most biodiverse rainforests. The international recognition of the Gabonese scheme as the first in the Congo basin is therefore a step in the right direction," Mr. Gunneberg added.
Using ATO/ITTO principles, criteria and indicators for the sustainable management of African natural tropical forests, amongst others, national stakeholders in Gabon have been developing their standard and scheme through a multi-stakeholder consensus-driven process since the late 1990s - even before PEFC was founded. PEFC International notes that the standard setting was carried out correctly, even though the corresponding procedures were not sufficiently elaborated when the scheme development started.
PAFC Gabon has in the meantime updated and modified these procedures to satisfy PEFC endorsement requirements. Given the enormous challenges faced by many African countries, reflecting the larger constraints of low income, weak policies and inadequately developed institutions, the result is that much more impressive and so far exceptional in the African context.
PEFC International has limited the endorsement of the Gabonese scheme to three years instead of the usual five years, which means that PAFC Gabon is required to start its revision process almost immediately, utilising its modified standard setting procedures. Minor issues concerning forest management sub-indicators will also be addressed during this process.
"By promoting sustainable forest management through certification in Gabon, our work contributes to the protection of the Congo basin forests, which constitutes the world's largest rainforest after the Amazon and spans six countries," said Mrs. Rose Ondo, Chairwoman of PAFC Gabon. "The onus of international forest certification systems is to provide qualitative and quantitative measures to distinguish and reward responsible forestry, thus making it more attractive to manage forests in a sustainable manner."