By Elias Ntungwe Ngalame
The first ever study dwelling on the social impact of Forest certification in the Congo Basin forest area has shown tremendous benefits to the riverine forest population. Forest certification for sustainable management provide more benefits to communities than uncertified forests, according to a new study of Congo basin logging concessions by the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR)presented in Yaounde Cameroon on April 7, 2014 by WWF-Cameroon, CIFOR Cameroon and the ministry of forestry and wildlife.
“The evidence indicates that Forest Stewardship Council certification in the Congo basin has been able to push logging companies toward remarkable social progress,” said Paolo Cerutti, lead scientist from CIFOR.
Conducted in 2013-2014 across three Congo Basin countries—Cameroon, Gabon and Republic of Congo—the WWF-supported study matched nine certified and nine noncertified concessions, or forest management units (FMUs) to compare how well they delivered social benefits to workers and communities.
The study looked at measures such as employee living and working conditions, equitable distribution of resources, social infrastructure such as schools and community buildings, and impacts on customary rights such as agriculture and hunting.
The study is the first of its kind to look specifically at social impacts of FSC certification in the Congo basin, and highlights how communities benefit when logging companies pursue the level of responsible forest management required by and audited under FSC certification requirements.
The study found that FSC certified concessions establish more effective and better organized institutions for communication with communities and equitable financial support to development projects, in clear contrast to past and nearby uncertified forestry operations.
In light of the results of the Congo Basin research, WWF Forest Director Rod Taylor reaffirms WWF’s commitment to investments in FSC certification. “This report confirms that FSC certification can drive logging companies to adopt more progressive social practices, and thus benefits communities living in and around certified logging concessions,” said Taylor.