The total number of participants was about 80, and the workshop allowed enriching exchanges of experiences.
Amongst the participants were for example the representatives of governments and development aid partners. They explained that although the policy documents of financial partners and the call for tender documents contain environmental clauses, in reality their attention is focussed on transparency in the treatment of the proposals and on proposed prices.
It therefore is important that in the call for tender documents, the agreements, and the monitoring of the execution of agreements, a special attention is drawn to the legality of wood in the chain of custody.
In order to balance offer and demand of legal wood on domestic markets, several suggestions have been made:
- Installation of a specific taxation for local markets (for example applying the same VAT for wood as for other construction materials like concrete (which is taxed at 6% in Gabon)), because industrial companies can’t sell to (very) small and medium enterprises below their production costs. If any State would like to promote the usage of legal wood above clandestine wood, they will need to accept higher wood prices caused by taxation, payment of social security for workers, etcetera.
- Facilitation of the legalisation of very small enterprises, allowing them (in collaboration or not with industrial companies) to participate to local calls for tenders (like construction of school buildings).
- More national level training to inform local actors about the properties and possible usages of lesser known timber species (LKTS), which will result in less harvesting pressure on well known species and a higher availability of wood volumes.
- Find agreements in between the CAEMC and ECOWAS allowing log export and cheaper harbour costs for exchanges from African countries with large forest surfaces to African countries which are specialised in wood industry.
During the transition period where forested countries seek to enforce local wood industry, and wood plantations in industrial countries need to become productive, the export of logs from Central Africa to West Africa could create a win-win situation for the forest sector economies of both sub-regions.