UFIGA requested Probos an objective study with to inform stakeholders, both from the forest based industry and representatives from government and (public) institutions in Gabon, about the objectives and guaranties of certification of Sustainable Forest Management (SFM) and the timber (products) Chain of Custody (CoC).
In 2018, Gabon’s president announced that all forest concessions in the country should be FSC certified by 2022. Since then, the forest sector has been strongly mobilised, aiming at gathering and sharing of knowledge and information on the various certification schemes for SFM.
Within the framework of the FLEGT IP (UE) and FLEGT-Certification (PPECF Comifac) projects, the Union des Forestiers et Industriels du Bois du Gabon (UFIGA) requested Probos to compile objective information about the development and concept of forest certification, the forest certification schemes that are relevant for Gabon, the results of existing comparative analyses on certification standards for Gabon, the costs and benefits of certification and the appreciation of certified timber products in consumer markets.
This study provides a factual and objective overview of the value of certification systems for sustainable management FSC and PAFC Gabon, present in Gabon. It was carried out on the basis mainly of documentary research and analysis of existing assessment tools for the systems present in Gabon, such as the WWF's CAT certification assessment tool, and the TPAC assessment grid of public procurement in the Netherlands.
The analysis shows that both systems have their own approach, particularly on the standard setting mechanism (the FSC having an international standard that needs to be adapted to the local level, and the PEFC recognizing national systems developing their own standard in accordance with the PEFC benchmark) but have similar certification implementation processes (in terms of accreditation, audit process).
Forest management standards have specific performance levels, with themes that are sometimes better covered depending on the system but guaranteeing an efficient level of sustainable forest management.
The company Precious Woods, which prefaced this study, testifies to the interest and the richness of being certified according to the two systems FSC and PAFC Gabon: "Two systems guarantee healthy competition and that the two standards incorporate new improvements". And calls for better recognition of forest management certification by regulatory initiatives (such as national regulations, or the FLEGT process) as a powerful tool aimed at protecting forests through sustainable forest management.
This study will make it easier to inform stakeholders, both from the forest industry and representatives of the government and (public) institutions of Gabon on the operation and the guarantees provided by the two sustainable forest management systems available in Gabon.
It will also serve to support the recognition of the verified third party certification in the documents of the FLEGT VPA between Gabon and the European Union.