Congo Basin Development Initiative
Our regional approach in the Congo Basin is seeing PAFC scale up through the collaboration of our PEFC members in Cameroon, Congo and Gabon, alongside our international stakeholder members Olam and ATIBT.
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, its uptake proved to be a challenge. We therefore continue 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 Congo Basin
Working under the common name PAFC (Pan-African Forest Certification), our three members in the region, PAFC Cameroon, PAFC Congo (Republic of Congo) and PAFC Gabon, are joining forces in developing a regional certification system called PAFC Congo Basin.
The shared language, the same forest and similar forest legislation in the three neighbouring countries enables PAFC Cameroon, PAFC Congo and PAFC Gabon to share one system. The new regional system will substitute the national systems from Gabon and Cameroon, while it will be the first for Congo.
The collaboration allows the three organizations to pool their financial and human resources while sharing their knowledge. The management of the system will be centralized and administered by a single regional coordinator, increasing the efficiency of the system’s implementation and facilitating external communication.
PAFC Congo Basin system development is led by ATIBT and supported by Olam and the PAFC members. The project is funded by PPECF (Programme de Promotion de l’Exploitation Certifiée des Forêts), a joint programme of KFW Development Bank and COMIFAC.
The project aims to develop a regional certification system by local stakeholders, taking into consideration their needs and its application on the field, while meeting PEFC’s international requirements. PAFC’s visibility is expected to increase significantly in Central Africa, as is the supply of certified wood.
PAFC Gabon 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. This was achieved 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 ATIBT.
An IDH grant then supported PAFC Gabon through the process of implementing the national system. This support also enabled the first PAFC Gabon Week to be held in September 2017. Auditors received training, preparing them for PEFC sustainable forest management audits in Africa, the first of which was carried out later the same month. Companies also received trained on PAFC, including information about the certification requirements.
A breakthrough came in late 2018 as the first forest area achieved PEFC certification.
PAFC Cameroon achieved PEFC endorsement of its national forest certification system in November 2019. The process benefited from the financial support of the PPECF (the Program for the Promotion of Certified Forest Operations).
Republic of Congo
PAFC-Congo is the latest member in the region to join the PEFC alliance, marking an important step towards its endorsement.
“PAFC is set to help promote sustainable forest management, making it more accessible and inclusive, thanks to its development respecting the local context,” explained Mr. Brice Séverin Pongui, Chairman of PAFC-Congo.
“With its careful balance of the environmental, social and economic benefits forests provide to the local forest owners and communities as well as society at large, we are convinced that PEFC certification is the right choice for our country.”