Workshop: Taking stock of one year of PPECF implementation
A workshop was held in Yaounde on October 16, 2013, to present the PPECF balance sheet after its first year of implementation within the COMIFAC sphere. It took place at the Mont Febe Hotel and came on the heels of the first decision and policy committee meeting held from July 31 to August 1, 2013 in Yaounde, Cameroon, which came up with strong recommendations.
The rationale for this workshop is the willingness of KFW and COMIFAC, to extend the scope of PPECF to countries of COMIFAC which offers a large number of businesses that may be potentially interested in certification, and establish a partnership to support other certification standards (FSC and PEFC / PAFC).
To this end, the workshop unfolded in two sessions marked by presentations and plenary discussions.
Here attendees of the workshop listened with keen interest to the presentations made first by the Manager and Technical Assistant of the programme on the background of PPECF, the intervention approach and the results obtained to date. A second presentation was made by Arthur Bhüler on the classification of businesses in the COMIFAC sphere. It was the latter presentation that sparked debate as it made quite shocking revelations on companies’ activities that pose a threat to the monitoring of Congo Basin forests. It was indicated that:
- out of 375 companies surveyed, only 1/3 work with a management plan
- out of 46 million hectares being exploited in the Congo Basin, only 8.2 million hectares of forest are covered by a certification scheme or a legality certificate,
- out of 340 companies that are active and present in the Congo Basin, 240 are functioning in complete illegality.
This bleak picture of business activity holds out an opportunity for PPECF to work with these companies to regularize their situation, in accordance with applicable regulations and especially the FLEGT-VPA requirements. This support will help to strengthen the forest sector in the face of competition from other emerging sectors such as mining, food industries, hydroelectric dams, notwithstanding the fact that its contribution to the income of Congo Basin States stands at 50%.
This session was moderated by experts Wallezack and Bühler. The aim was firstly to carry out a demonstration of the use of the Go Monitor Forest tool, which is used to analyze logging impacts. A practical exercise allowed participants to assess the population dynamics around the forest concession and along the new road opened by the administration of public works south of the FMU.
The practical exercise was followed by a presentation which focused on the Canopée software. It is currently being used by 5000 ONF officers in France to carry out programming and monitoring of logging activities.
The next part of the session was spent in enriching discussions which led to recommendations. Thus the following were retained for:
- maintain follow-up contacts with partners to raise awareness of the benefits of forest certification including at consumer level as proposed by the ITTA through its three interventions: tests conducted on some species that are unique to the Congo Basin, printing guides and conducting marketing campaigns targeting European consumers;
- initiate actions to promote the domestic timber market and foster certification as a market tool, not meant only for the export market ;
- stimulating competition between the two major certification schemes, FSC and PEFC / PAFC, would be a good thing and will awaken governments which will play the role of arbitration;-
- develop PAFC certification in the Congo Basin, which is in line with the development of PEFC in major timber producing countries in South / East Asia : Malaysia, Indonesia, China, to create a belt of PEFC timber that would spread from Africa, be transformed in Asia and sold in Europe
- support certification of small surface areas (community and communal forests) through group certification models that are yet to be developed based on community forests networks existing in South and East of Cameroon; Ø
- develop the HVC roadmap taking into account different forest types: FMUs, communal forests, community forests, etc... Ø
- foster tools that favor good governance, accountability and transparency in the forest sector;
- Governments should take ownership of the HVC to the point of bringing it to bear on the different operators: food industries, concession holders, mining sectors, etc Ø
- The administration should use the Go Monitor Forest tool to guide forest cover monitoring;
- Local and devolved administrations should be brought on board to monitor population dynamics around certified FMUs ;
- it is necessary to develop other interventions alongside Go Monitor Forest, including comparison of uses in certified and non-certified concessions;
- Organize training sessions for leaders of planning cells in satellite image interpretation, in view of the inauguration of the GEOS satellite in Gabon (2014) which will provide images with a 30 m resolution ;
- VPAs should require satellite images of forest concessions over a 4-year period;
- Make use of the Canopée software in community forest management, which is hampered by a lack of standardization;
- Encourage concession holders interested in this software to take part in the second presentation of the software in the PPECF meeting room on 17.10.2013 from 8 a.m. to 12 noon.
It is with great satisfaction that the participants parted at this workshop having a clear understanding of the PPECF’s actions and results obtained.