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Legality Standards and Stepwise Approaches to Sustainable Forest Management in Central Africa

Outlines some of the issues and ongoing initiatives associated with the stepwise approach to sustainable forest management in Central Africa.

Executive Summary

There is increasing demand by individual consumers and national governments for wood products that have been harvested in a legal, socially responsible and sustainable manner, particularly in the US and European marketplaces. While some countries and individual private timber companies operating in Central Africa are moving towards increased legality and sustainability of operations, most are years away from being able to implement procedures that would satisfy traditional forest certification legality and sustainability criteria. Rather than effectively prohibiting importation of wood from the Central Africa region and other developing countries, where the industrial forest sector represents important sources of revenue for national economies and the rural poor, some have proposed a stepwise approach to certification that would allow time for committed companies to show that they are on the road to sustainability.

There are a number of initiatives ongoing in Central Africa that aim to increase the supply of sustainable harvested and legally produced wood products. With so many actors and initiatives it is at times hard to make sense of it all. This brief outlines some of the issues and ongoing initiatives associated with the stepwise approach to sustainable forest management in Central Africa, and provides some insights and lessons learned from WRI’s collaborative efforts to set up an independent and voluntary forest concession monitoring system in the Congo Basin.

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