From: Editor, World Wildlife Fund
Published November 21, 2011 08:39 AM

Markets drive conservation in Central Africa

Madrid, Spain – Certification has shown that commercial forestry can co-exist with conservation objectives in the Congo Basin, according to conclusions reached at an international seminar "Forest management as a tool for cooperation and rural development in Central Africa", organized yesterday in Madrid by WWF/Global Forest & Trade Network (GFTN) in cooperation with the Ministry of Environment, Rural and Marine Affairs of Spain.


Many studies show that best practices, such as certified forests, can contribute to the conservation of key species and the integrity of ecosystems, although there is still room for improvement to ensure that certified forests always reach the best conservation standards.

"Growth in certification is the best social, economic and environmental option for the development of forestry across the region. It offers a transparent model that drives improvements in standards and addresses key issues through a multi-stakeholder process. As such, certification of forests in the Congo Basin should at least treble within the next five years to reach 15 million hectares," said George White, Head of GFTN.

Much has been achieved since the first seminar that took place in 2006. Certification has grown in the Congo Basin from around 41,000 hectares in 2006 to almost 5.2 million hectares today. That's the equivalent expansion in size from the South Atlantic island of Saint Helena (41,000 ha) to a nation roughly the size of Costa Rica (5.11 million ha).

In recent years, legislative processes both in the Congo Basin and Europe to combat illegal trade of forest products also started to change the market landscape, increasing focus on legality in the region and boosting public procurement in favour of legal and certified forest products.

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