Republic of Congo has become the latest member of the PEFC alliance, joining recent recruits the Council for Sustainable Forest Management and Certification in Bulgaria and the South African Forestry Assurance Scheme (SAFAS).
The PEFC alliance’s membership now stands at 49 national members around the world.
Since 2011, PEFC has been engaged in a number of initiatives to promote uptake of forest certification in Africa, with a particular focus on Central Africa. Working under the common name PAFC – Pan-African Forest Certification, there are now three PEFC members in the region: PAFC Cameroon, PAFC Congo and PAFC Gabon.
“The forests in the Congo Basin are home to more than 10,000 species. They provide food, water and shelter to more than 75 million people, and are of significant economic importance,” said Ben Gunneberg, CEO of PEFC International.
“With PAFC-Congo becoming a member of PEFC and their work on developing a national forest certification system, we are taking a huge step towards safeguarding the benefits the forests in the region provide. We are thrilled to welcome PAFC-Congo into the PEFC alliance.
“We have been working in the Congo Basin for several years, and the addition of the Republic of Congo marks an important move forward for the development of certification in the basin”.
Brice Séverin Pongui, chairman of PAFC-Congo added: “There have been strong evolutions in the way forests are managed in the Republic of Congo, but certification is struggling to develop and become widespread.
“PAFC is set to help promote sustainable forest management, making it more accessible and inclusive, thanks to its development respecting the local context.
“With its careful balance of the environmental, social and economic benefits forests provide to the local forest owners and communities as well as society at large, we are convinced that PEFC certification is the right choice for our country.”
The PEFC is currently strengthening the capacity of PAFC Congo, mapping all respective stakeholders and developing and validating the national sustainable forest management standard.
“This will all be done through a transparent and inclusive process, involving everyone interested, through departmental and national workshops,” said Séverin Pongui.
“We will also study and analyse the international PEFC requirements, as well as the PAFC standards in Gabon and Cameroon, in order to best develop our national certification system”.