'Remarkable social progress' when forests are FSC certified, new study confirms

Apr 08, 2014 by Cari Beth Head
Credit: Ollivier Girard for Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR)

Forests FSC certified for their 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).

"The evidence indicates that Forest Stewardship Council certification in the Congo Basin has been able to push logging companies toward remarkable social progress," says 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 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.

Credit: Ollivier Girard for Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR)

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," says Taylor.

The study did not find significant differences between certified and noncertified concessions in terms of customary access to, and right to use forest resources within logging concessions (e.g. for agricultural use, hunting and gathering non-timber forest products). The study also highlighted a need to ensure that the benefits of certification for communities are sustained.

According to the study, the delivery of social benefits would be further improved if logging companies, certifying bodies and the FSC put more effort into establishing clear, written procedures for conflict resolution, improved monitoring of performance against social benchmarks and provided better career planning to make the logging industry a more attractive employment sector.

The Forest Stewardship Council has been operating since 1994, with the first certification in the Congo Basin achieved in 2005 and currently some 4.3 million ha of natural tropical forest under FSC . Still, this represents only about 10 per cent of all logging concessions in the region.

While there is an unquestionable need for formal protection of a representative portion of the region's and the world's most socially and environmentally important forests, the majority of the world's forests will remain outside of protected areas. Well-managed selective logging concessions can buffer protected areas, support healthy populations of rare or endangered species and benefit people.

Responsible forestry, including both intensive commercial management and community forestry, has a key role to play in conserving global biodiversity, preventing illegal logging and providing economic and social benefits to society.

Explore further: Pact with devil? California farmers use oil firms' water

Related Stories

Central African countries to monitor Congo forests

Jul 26, 2012

Ten Central African countries have agreed to take part in a regional initiative to monitor the Congo Basin, one of the world's largest primary rainforests, the UN's food agency said Thursday.

Lilliput forests, global certification

Feb 08, 2013

As global demand for timber certified as being sustainable is growing, European small forest owners are still reluctant to gain certification. But increasing economic advantages may shift their position.

Recommended for you

Gimmicks and technology: California learns to save water

6 hours ago

Billboards and TV commercials, living room visits, guess-your-water-use booths, and awards for water stinginess—a wealthy swath of Orange County that once had one of the worst records for water conservation ...

Cities, regions call for 'robust' world climate pact

6 hours ago

Thousands of cities, provinces and states from around the world urged national governments on Thursday to deliver a "robust, binding, equitable and universal" planet-saving climate pact in December.

Will climate change put mussels off the menu?

6 hours ago

Climate change models predict that sea temperatures will rise significantly, including in the tropics. In these areas, rainfall is also predicted to increase, reducing the salt concentration of the surface ...

As nations dither, cities pick up climate slack

18 hours ago

Their national governments hamstrung by domestic politics, stretched budgets and diplomatic inertia, many cities and provinces have taken a leading role—driven by necessity—in efforts to arrest galloping ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.