The forest certification project in Gabon, a complex implementation

11.10.2018
COUNTRIES AND FORETS IN THE CONGO BASIN

Last week, we informed you of the wish of the President of the Gabonese Republic to encourage forestry companies from all over the country to embark on the path of FSC certification. The FSC label ensures that the products used come from resources that are controlled and taken in a responsible manner. This certificate, it should be remembered, today covers about 5 million ha of forests in the Congo Basin. Introduced in the Congo Basin in 2005, it reached a peak in 2016, before seeing the surfaces shrink in late 2017 and early 2018, for various reasons, one of them being the difficulty to extend this certification to new stakeholders, particularly forestry SMEs in the sub-region. It is hard to see how difficult it is for companies currently applying for certification to achieve this goal in the short term, but serious projects exist, based on the diversity of the existing offer, between OLB, PAFC-Gabon and FSC.

The means exist to support companies, particularly through the PPECF, the Program for the Promotion of Certified Forest Exploitation, under the supervision of COMIFAC. Also, the ATIBT received in the last days many messages, emanating or not from its members (the latter are, in principle, already engaged in a process of certification), which question the way in which the will of the President Bongo will take shape.

We learned of the quick start of the work to start the presidential project, under the control of the Bureau de Coordination du Plan Stratégique Gabon Emergent. We hope for a total success in this work, which will probably be conditioned by a good understanding of the many existing issues. An opening of the certification to different schemes nevertheless seems necessary, to avoid any monopoly, for the very good of the certification schemes.