Congo Basin milestones in Gabon
The first FSC certificates ever to be granted in Gabon were issued in October 2008 for two tropical forest concessions that span a combined area of 1,304,962 ha. Home to the second largest forest in the Congo Basin in Africa, Gabon holds some of the world’s most biodiverse rainforests. On October 9, 2008, French company Rougier, a specialist in African tropical timber, achieved FSC certification for the major part of its forest concessions in Gabon. Covering an area of 688,262 ha, the Group certificate encompasses the Haut-Abanga, Ogooué-Ivindo and Léké concessions.
Francis Rougier, President of Rougier’s Executive Board, affirms “We are making excellent progress towards the target that we have set ourselves: Gradually obtaining internationally recognized responsible management certifications for 100% of our concessions.”
The company controls the entire supply chain from logging and milling, logistics to trading. FSC certification of the trading subsidiary, Rougier International, means that the entire timber chain from the forest to the final client, including each stage of the production and transformation process is tracked and certified.
The French company manages 2 Mha of forest concessions in Cameroon, Gabon and Congo and has plans to certify all of its concessions. The FSC label gives the company a competitive edge when approaching mature markets that are sensitive to the challenges of responsible development, such as in Europe or the US.
“FSC certification opens up further new perspectives for us,” declared Marc-Antoine Mallet, Executive Director of Rougier. “It enables us to provide the markets with 3,000 m3 of FSC certified Okoumé plywood, 1,500 m3 of FSC certified Okoumé sawn timber and related products, and 6,000 m3 of logs from various species to market every month.”
On October 9, 2008, Precious Woods Gabon, Compagnie Equatoriale des Bois (CEB), a subsidiary of Precious Woods Holding, achieved FSC certification for its 616,700 ha forest concession in Gabon. The certification of the company’s Gabonese operations means that all the international subsidiaries of the Precious Woods Group engaged in forestry activities are now FSC certified, including its previously certified concessions in Brazil in 1997, Costa Rica in 2000 and Nicaragua in 2007.
Andreas Heusler, Chief Executive Officer of Precious Woods, underlines: “As a company committed to the triple bottom line, it has always been our goal and vision to preserve tropical forests by managing them sustainably. With the recent certification we have now all Group companies engaged in forestry activities certified. This important step enables us to respond to an increasing demand for certified timber products.”
The monthly production from the Gabonese concession consists of some 17,000 m3 of roundwood that is FSC certified. 73% of the volume consists of Okoumé while the remaining 27% are composed of a series of species including Agba, Bahia and Movingui.
According to Precious Woods, FSC certification is a major differentiating factor and represents a clear competitive advantage, particularly in the European market. Not only does it mean that FSC-certified timber can be sold at a premium price, it also guarantees a long-term “license to operate” in markets which are demanding increasingly high standards with regard to the sustainability of the products being offered.
The company has been practicing sustainable forest management already for some time and served as a successful example for the definition of the forestry legislation currently in force in Gabon. Under Gabonese law, forest concessions must be managed on a sustainable basis. Having acquired CEB, which is now also FSC certified, Precious Woods will continue and enhance its ecological profile.
The FSC Principles and Criteria for responsible forest management is the highest social and environmental standard in the industry. In addition to strict social and environmental requirements, it includes managerial aspects to ensure that the natural forest complexity is maintained, social issues are considered, while securing long-term supplies of forest products.