Improved governance and sustainable management of forest resources will ensure access of Congolese timber to the European market, open up new export opportunities, improve the overall conditions of the timber supply chain and improve the living/economic conditions of local populations and workers.
The Congolese government and the European Union signed a Voluntary Partnership Agreement (VPA) on Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade (FLEGT) on 17 May 2010. This trade agreement, which entered into force on 1 March 2013, aims to improve forest governance in Congo and to ensure that Congo’s timber and timber products meet the country’s regulatory requirements..
VPA FLEGT Congo defines legality as follows: “Is deemed legal timber, all timber originating from acquisition, production and marketing processes that comply with all legal and regulatory provisions in force in the Congo and applicable in the field of forest management and development”.
The Legality Assurance System (LAS) is based on two pillars: (i) administrative control and (ii) field control.
The LAS includes:
– The legality grids, which are the basic tools for verifying the legality of companies: (i) Legality grid for timber from natural forests; (ii) Legality grid for timber from forest plantations.
– The traceability system
– An independent system auditor (AIS)
The Republic of Congo has committed itself to the establishment of a legality verification system (LAS) covering the entire sector, both on the national and international markets. The legality certificates therefore concern the entire production.
There are two levels of verification of legality:
– 1st level by the authorised services (administration of trade, customs, labour, taxes, Departmental Directorates Forest Economy, CNIAF, CNSS, prefectures etc.).
– 2nd level by the General Inspectorate of Forest Economy (IGEF)
These two levels are enforcement and compliance with the regulatory framework.
FLEGT licences only apply to timber/wood products exported to the EU and are dependent on the company obtaining a certificate of legality beforehand.
The Système Informatique de Vérification de Légalité (SIVL) is the tool used by the Congolese administration to collect traceability and forest control information in order to issue FLEGT certificates of legality and authorisations. The system was developed by SGS and hosted in the Ministry of Finance datacenter in November 2018.
The SIVL is a web-based application in which logging companies will have to fill in documents that attest to the legality of the company and detailed data from the inventory through production, transport and processing operations to export, based on internal and external manual data collection forms, part of which are subject to mandatory administrative formats such as Carnets de chantiers and roadmaps.
The SIVL is under the supervision of three ministries brought together through a GTI (Joint Working Group) for its technical takeover and national deployment: Ministry of Forest Economy, Ministry of Finance and Budget and Ministry of Planning, Statistics and Regional Integration.
This tool is a key lever to achieve the following objectives:
- Ensure the legality of all timber produced in the Republic of Congo.
- Ensure the traceability of these products.
- Improve forest governance.
- Monitor and secure revenues from forest exploitation.
- Manage Congolese forests sustainably and rationally.
- Improve the performance of the forest sector.
- Give priority to wood from the Republic of Congo on the European market.
The SIVL tool is ready for deployment, the SIVL deployment strategy has been structured in three phases (i) prerequisites; (ii) preparation; (iii) commissioning. There are 17 modules in all. The deployment will be done by module, the 2020 objectives foresee the deployment of all the modules starting with Taxation and Legality.
Enterprises must be at the centre of this process. The SIVL is required, so they must make arrangements to be ready. The preparatory tasks necessary for companies to comply with the requirements for using the software should not be underestimated.
This system should in time and by extension allow :
- Reduction of non-ethical practices,
- Simplification of administrative procedures (online payment, Guichet Unique etc.)
- Compliance with the requirements of the EUTR
- Improvement of the image of Congolese companies and wood on the international market
- Harmonization of modus operandi
The stake of the deployment of the SIVL is to organize itself to be able to collect, record and archive the documents and legal data required by the SIVL, it is thus necessary :
- Inventories of exploitation of qualities
- Internal resources (administrative and financial skills, office automation skills) – 3 referents (see below)
- Internal traceability system (management tools highly recommended but optional)
- Computers and internet connection
Service Notes N° 0103/MEF/CAB/IGSEF-CLFT and 0104/MEF/CAB/IGSEF du 15/02 :2019 from the MEF Inspector General ask companies and the SCPFE General Management to select three and one SIVL referent respectively. The objective is that these referents serve as an interface with the agents of the CLFT.
The year 2020 is a pivotal year with many events/support events planned:
- SOGEROM: is currently supporting the coordination of the deployment of the SIVL, strengthening the capacities of the technical administrators of the SIVL and carrying out the organisational diagnosis of the MEF’s DCV.
- The ATIBT has recruited the Kooper firm to: develop a methodology enabling interministerial teams to collect information on the capacity of companies to provide the legality documents requested by the SIVL, and reliable traceability data.
- TEREA is currently supporting the MEF’s CLFT in preparing the deployment of the SIVL: the objective is for the CLFT to be able to fully play its role of awareness, training and control in the context of the deployment of the SIVL in preparation for future support from the European Union.
- The CLFT is about to implement a FAO project to prepare the ground for the SIVL through an inventory of available resources in the DDEFs and private operators, the evaluation of existing traceability systems in all enterprises not yet visited for this purpose, and the training of DDEFs and operators.
- Long-term Technical Assistance to the LFTC and CNIAF (11th EDF funding) will be mobilized in 2020 and will notably enable the continued deployment and evolutionary maintenance of the SIVL.
Useful links, contacts and documents :