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 membes Olam International 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: the journey so far
Working under the common name PAFC – Pan-African Forest Certification, there are now three PEFC members in the region: PAFC Cameroon, PAFC Congo (Republic of Congo) and PAFC Gabon.
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 our international stakeholder member 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.
A breakthrough came in late 2018 as the first forest area achieved PEFC certification.
PAFC Cameroon has concluded the development of its national system, a process benefitted from the financial support of the PPECF (the Program for the Promotion of Certified Forest Operations).
Their national system has been submitted to PEFC and has undergone a 60 day global public consultation. The consultation provided the independent organization carrying out the assessment with valuable information as they determine if it is in compliance with our international requirements.
Republic of Congo
PAFC-Congo is the latest forest certification system in the region to join the PEFC alliance, marking an important step towards its endorsement.
This achievement is built on 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
We were able to significantly increase our activities in Central Africa, thanks to the support of PPECF-COMIFAC. The first step of this project was to improve the communication of PEFC certification in the region. Initially we focused 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.
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.