Bonus Harvest joins WWF’s Forests Forward programme to improve forest management in Gabon

As relayed by WWF on its website, the forestry company Bonus Harvest, which has stated its intention to obtain a sustainable management certificate in the near future, is joining the Forest Forward programme.


Read the original article on the WWF website

The forestry company has committed to achieving FSC certification, protecting biodiversity, and supporting the rights and wellbeing of local communities.

Bonus Harvest is the latest forestry company operating in the Congo Basin to join Forests Forward, a signature WWF programme for corporate action in support of nature, climate, and people. The company’s participation focuses on several goals towards sustainable forest management of the company’s operations in Gabon, including a commitment to attaining Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certification.

Straddling the provinces of Ogooué-Ivindo and Ogooué-Lolo, Bonus Harvest’s 128,000-hectare forestry concession is located between the Ivindo and Lopé National Parks and is home to a high diversity of wildlife, including threatened species such as forest elephant, gorilla and chimpanzee. 

Gabon is classified as one of 33 High Forest cover, Low Deforestation (HFLD) countries worldwide, meaning the country contains large areas of forests and low rates of deforestation. It is therefore vital that finance is mobilized for HFLD regions in a way that recognises the true importance of forests. One way of doing so is through increasing the value of responsible forestry in existing logging concessions. By following sustainable forest management techniques, companies can help conserve a forested landscape, prevent illegal logging, conversion, and hunting, while benefiting local people.

“Bonus Harvest is committed to FSC certification because we aim to operate at the highest standards of forest management. It is our obligatory duty as a forestry practitioner to contribute to nature conservation and to align our practices to prevent climate change,” said Xu Jianhua, Sustainability Manager, Bonus Harvest. “We see sustainable forest management as the only efficient way of keeping forest cover, and we pay attention to our social responsibility to local communities.”


Gabon’s goal of certified forests

FSC-certified forest concessions in the Congo Basin are often large, remote areas which are harvested under Reduced-Impact Logging principles in a decades-long rotational pattern, meaning that large mammals are able to roam and avoid production areas. Other practices implemented in the region through FSC standards include biodiversity protection measures such as anti-poaching, as well as community involvement and benefit sharing.

WWF-Gabon has been helping forestry companies to achieve FSC certification for over 15 years. “Certification is important for the widespread sustainable management of forests in addition to conservation and protection in protected areas”, said Nathalie Nyare, National Director, WWF-Gabon. “In 2018, the Gabonese government announced that forest certification would be extended to all forest concessions, with a revised target of 2025. This reinforces WWF's pioneering role in Gabon and its position as a partner for stakeholders involved in the conservation and sustainable management of natural resources – particularly forestry.”

The scaling up of sustainable forest management and supply chain traceability in the Congo Basin is also part of a wider push, including by WWF at last year’s Three Basins Summit in Brazzaville.


Catalyzing corporate action

Bonus Harvest is Chinese-owned, employs over 200 local workers, and is a member of ATIBT, a tropical timber trade organization promoting the sustainable, ethical and legal trade of tropical timber. 

“We want to change the view of Chinese-owned forestry companies in the Congo Basin and show that certification and the sustainable management of forest is possible,” said Xu. “We aim to take care of local development, for local people, even beyond what the legislation requires.”

As an important step in their journey towards achieving FSC certification, Bonus Harvest obtained a LegalSource Certificate in 2022, confirming that the company undertakes certain measures to assure the wood from their concession is legal and compliant with the EU Timber Regulation (EUTR). 

“WWF supported this process by organizing training for Bonus Harvest (e.g. on Reduced-Impact Logging and wildlife protection), supporting wildlife monitoring – in which we captured some fantastic wildlife footage [see video from Bonus Harvest’s concession] – and ensuring the involvement of local communities,” said Jean-Paul Obame, Forest Programme Coordinator, WWF-Gabon. “We are delighted to welcome Bonus Harvest into Forests Forward and support their commitments to compliance, legality, and sustainable development.”

“Bonus Harvest is planning for our FSC audit in early 2025,” said Xu. “As we move towards certification, we need the external expertise and training of WWF, including on biodiversity and social aspects. Forests Forward is also a place of sharing where we can learn good management practices from other partners.”

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