COMIFAC - GIZ - PPECF: Asian Companies on the path to forest legality in Central Africa
Please download the final report of the workshop
From 18 to 19 March 2014, the city of Libreville, Gabon, hosted a workshop for Asian logging companies on certification and legality processes in Central Africa. The workshop was conducted in a context marked by the emergence of Asian countries as the premier destination for forest products originating from the Congo Basin, coupled with robust demand for forest concessions by Asian loggers whose willingness to comply with the laws that govern their activities is trumped by linguistic, cultural and procedural barriers with which they are little acquainted.
By organizing the workshop, COMIFAC and the CBFP, with the support of GIZ and PPECF /KfW aimed to educate Chinese logging companies on issues related to compliance with the law, forest management, the need to integrate the FLEGT process and ultimately, to embark on the path to certification in order to carve a place for themselves in many markets which have become highly demanding.
The workshop objectives were:
♦ To introduce the principles of the legal framework governing forestry and responsible trade in timber products in Central Africa;
♦ To present the legal frameworks governing the international timber trade in Europe (VPA- FLEGT, EUTR ...) and in China (SFA Guidelines);
♦ To highlight the strengths and weaknesses of the FSC and PAFS certification systems in contrast with a sustainable management model;
♦ To inform the Asian logging companies of the existence of actors who are competent to assist them in their legality and certification efforts;
♦ To outline support scenarios for Asian logging companies wishing to develop SFM activities.
In a bid to achieve these objectives, the meeting adopted the approach of presentations followed by discussions, which offered the advantage of helping the logging companies to take consensual ownership of the legality and certification principles.
Topics covered by the presentations and which the participants learned more about included:
♦ An introduction to the concepts of legality and certification & Issues and challenges surrounding legality and certification in Central Africa;
♦ The legal frameworks governing forestry and responsible trade in timber products in some Central African countries;
♦ The FLEGT unit of ECCAS and the legality process in Central Africa;
♦ The EUTR and the outlook for legal certified timber on the European market;
♦ The different steps leading to the certification of public (VPA / FLEGT) and private legality (OLB, TLTV, VLC) and the current state of the FLEGT process in Central Africa,
♦ FSC: prospects, challenges and challenges;
♦ The PAFC Standard: prospects, challenges and challenges;
♦ SFM support programmes in Central Africa;
♦ The outlook for legal certified timber on the Chinese market;
♦ Legal frameworks governing the timber trade in China (SFA guidelines for sustainable forest management).
Each presentation was followed by discussions and debates on specific topics aimed at enhancing the participants’ understanding. The following topics were discussed:
♦ Various concepts covered: certification and legality, legal frameworks for forest logging, responsible timber trade;
♦ Deadlines, requirements, possible support for these concepts;
♦ Costs, comparative advantages, reasons for a company to choose one system over another.
In addition to fostering understanding of the presentations, the discussions also enabled the participants to reach conclusions on:
♦ the understanding of legality issues including those based on the laws and regulations applicable in the producer country;
♦ understanding of certification as a voluntary process in which companies freely decide to adhere in order to carve a place for themselves in the market;
♦ complementarity between legality and certification which are complementary processes;
♦ main impediments slowing down Asian companies;
♦ the needs expressed by Asian companies; about their efforts to engage on the path of certification which require financial resources, access to resources, information and capacity building. .
At the end of the meeting, the participants expressed satisfaction with the quality of information provided to them, and stressed the need to resume dialogue with the SFA in China and consider ways of taking joint action and sharing costs in support of Chinese companies, guide them in better complying with the law, establishing traceability systems and embarking on the path to certification.
Details on the conduct of the workshop can be found in the report below which was issued after the event: