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Sustainable forest management means using forestry practices that allow us to meet our needs while giving future generations the chance to meet theirs.

Forest certification is a process through which an independent accredited body evaluates a company’s forest management practices and issues a certificate if it meets set criteria.

These include:
  • Full legal compliance
  • Respect for the rights of local and indigenous peoples
  • Safe working conditions
  • Protecting areas of high conservation value
  • Using best practices in activities such as harvesting and road construction
WWF considers the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) to be the only credible forest certification scheme for the Congo Basin.

Certification covers both forest management on the ground and companies that trade in timber products (chain of custody). This means customers can be confident they are buying products that do not harm forests.

Why sustainable forest management?
  • To fight against irresponsible and unsustainable practices in order to secure a supply of forest resources in perpetuity (quantity and quality).
  • To make forestry more profitable to states, local communities and logging companies and share the benefits more fairly.
  • To protect important habitats and maintain the ecosystem services that forests provide.
WWF supports sustainable forest management through the Global Forest and Trade Network (GFTN).

Global Forest and Trade Network (GFTN)

  • GFTN is a WWF global initiative to promote sustainable forest management and combat illegal exploitation of forest resources
  • It was launched in 1991
  • It was established in the Congo Basin in 2003

Responsible forestry can bring positive economic and environmental results, and WWF can help in this process.


© Brent Stirton / Getty Images / WWF-UK
Logs at FSC certified Pallisco logging company, East province, Cameroon.
© Brent Stirton / Getty Images / WWF-UK

What we do?

We protect the Congo Basin forests and the people who depend on them in several ways: 

Sustainable forest management tools:
We have helped develop FSC standards, including specific guidelines for Congo Basin countries. We promote sustainable forest management tools from organizations such as the FSC, the African Timber Organization (ATO) and International Tropical Timber Organization (ITTO). We also promote guidelines for Chinese companies operating in Central Africa, and have translated legal documents like the Gabon forest code into Chinese.

Working with logging companies: 
We build the capacity of logging companies on reduced impact logging, high conservation value (HCV) areas, conflict resolution, data collection, analysis and monitoring.

Working with communities:
We support and train local communities to improve their livelihoods by taking control of managing their forests and natural resources. We have also helped link them with buyers who want to source wood from responsibly managed forests.

Bringing stakeholders together:
We create opportunities for governments, companies, communities and other stakeholders to come together to share ideas, experiences and lessons learnt. We have organized workshops and trainings on issues such as conflict resolution. We also promote experience sharing between developing countries (South-South dialogue).

Lobbying and advocacy:
We make the case for sustainable forest management, low impact logging and wildlife management at the local, national and regional levels. We also promote dialogue through inter-governmental organizations like the Central African Forests Commission (COMIFAC) and the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS-CEEAC).


   Major Achievements

  1. 4.8 million hectares FSC certified (an area larger than the Netherlands)
  2. 8.2 million hectares have some sort of legality certificate
  3. 4 GFTN members managing 1.6 million ha


FSC Certified Forests in the Congo Basin

   Republic of Congo : 1 730 743 ha
   Gabon : 2 053 505 ha
   Cameroon : 1 013 374 ha
   Central African Republic : 0 ha
   Democratic Republic of Congo : 0 ha


Major challenges

© Brent Stirton/WWF CARPO
Wood product consumers around the world are exerting huge pressure on tropical forests.

To meet this demand, vast quantities of timber products from the Congo Basin and elsewhere are being exported to Japan, China, the US and Europe.

The current major challenges are:
  1. Complex social and institutional context
  2. Illegal logging
  3. Extractive industries (mining)
  4. No “premium” on certified wood
  5. Financial crisis (consumers and donors as well)
  6. Limitations of financial resources
  7. Poor understanding of complementary between FSC certification and FLEGT
© © Brent Stirton / Getty Images / WWF
WWF UK and WWF Germany are working with WWF CARPO on a 2 year EU-funded campaign (2010-2011) to raise awareness among EU consumers of the links between their consumption of timber products and the effects on communities and forests in the Congo Basin region.
© © Brent Stirton / Getty Images / WWF