Thursday, 28 November 2013
Role of FSC certification in the tropics highlighted in side event at the International Tropical Timber Council
28 November 2013. Yesterday the FSC official side event, ‘FSC certification to respond to global sustainability and legality demands,’ took place at the 49th Session of the International Tropical Timber Council (ITTC) in Libreville, Gabon. Moderated by John Hontelez, FSC Chief Advocacy Officer, the session brought together a seasoned group of panelists who addressed issues such as compliance with timber legality legislation, opportunities and barriers in FSC certification in tropical countries, the role of governments, and special efforts that can help smallholders to enjoy the benefits of certification.
Kim Carstensen, Director General of FSC, focused on FSC’s work to promote responsible forest management in the tropics. His presentation emphasized the organization’s growth and the relevance of some of its strategic work areas to the particular challenges faced by tropical forestry. In particular, the Smallholders and Modular Approach Programs are working to ensure a higher uptake of certification in the tropics.
Carstensen also highlighted the way that international mechanisms such as the Forest Law Enforcement Governance and Trade Regulation, the European Union Timber Regulation and the US Lacey Act can contribute to the identification and eradication of illegally logged tropical wood competing on the markets with wood from sustainable forestry.
“FSC is keen to strengthen its work to promote sustainable forest management of tropical forests. We are taking part in this ITTO meeting to show the governments attending our commitment to tropical forests. We want to discuss how we can work together to make FSC certification an even stronger tool for well-managed forests and the people who live in them,” said Carstensen.
Mr Gregoire Nkeoua, Adviser to the Ministry of Forests Economy and Sustainable Development of the Republic of Congo, stated the commitment of his country to increase the uptake of forest certification: “We have set ourselves an objective, that all forest concessions by 2015 will be certified,” said Mr Nkeoua. He highlighted the important role that FSC plays in the Congo Basin, saying that “almost the totality of certified forests in the Congo Basin are under FSC standards.” Mr Nkeoua also spoke about opportunities, lessons and constraints of certification, and the importance of private schemes and government policies being in line with each other.
Mr Rob Busink, from the Dutch Ministry of Economic Affairs, highlighted the urgency of additional efforts to achieve sustainable forest management in the tropics, given that deforestation is growing faster than certification. But Mr Busink also highlighted opportunities, saying, “There is a unique momentum for action for mainstreaming sustainable tropical timber.” Mr Busink is one of the initiators of the EU Sustainable Tropical Timber Coalition, which is aiming to increase European demand for sustainable tropical timber by simultaneously boosting production and working to change consumer perception of tropical timber. He emphasized the important role that governments play in this process as buyers, regulators and donors.
Ms Cécile Ndjebet, President of African Women’s Network For Community Management of Forests and National Coordinator of Cameroun Ecology, presented an NGO perspective on certification. She described her involvement in community forestry developments in Cameroon, and emphasized how FSC certification can help with giving guidance on forest management and by opening access to markets. She emphasized the added value that FSC certification provides, being a “very inclusive and good participatory approach for local communities as a mutual learning experience.” She also outlined the problems that community forests are facing which include legality, markets, lack of traceability and financial resources. She called for FSC and governments to support community forest certification.
The side event served as an opportunity to launch the publication ‘FSC®: Increasingly Relevant for Tropical Forests,’ which outlines how sustainable forest management responds to local and global interests. It is available in English, French and Spanish