Keeping tropical forests, bettering lives

21.04.2016. In many countries and regions of the world, 'Mother Earth' is the expression used to reflect the interdependence between human beings, other living species and our planet.

This year, the Paris climate deal will be signed in New York on 22 April, on the occasion of International Earth Day, set by the United Nations and celebrated all over the world. We take you on a journey to the heart of the tropical forest, thanks to Dutch writer Meindert Brouwer who has devoted a whole chapter of his new book to the FSC®-certified sustainable forest management carried out by Interholco in Congo.

1. Who should read “The Book That Grows Like a Tree” and what is it about?

MB The book presents opportunities and solutions to safeguard  the second largest rainforest in the world, the Congo Basin rainforest, and surrounding forests in ten countries in Central Africa: Cameroon, Central African Republic, Republic of Congo, Democratic Republic of Congo, Chad, Rwanda, Burundi, Gabon,  Equatorial Guinea and the island state of São Tomé e Principe.  It shows the great importance of these forests for the health, well-being and welfare of the people living in Central Africa and for the global community. It is meant to  inspire and inform policymakers, entrepreneurs, students, NGO’s, local communities  and the general public how they can contribute to keep forests standing in Central Africa. The book shows there are sound and viable alternatives to deforestation, by presenting an overview of best practices in sustainable forest management and new initiatives which promote sustainable use of tropical forests in Central Africa, especially initiatives which people of the continent have confidence in.

2. What has made you choose IFO for Chapter V? What did you experience there?

MB Especially in the tropics, FSC-certified forest management is one of the most important instruments to safeguard forests and biodiversity. It is also a key instrument to reduce poverty because FSC-certification guarantees that local forest workers receive a decent income and professional training.  I knew IFO is the largest FSC-certified single forest concession in Africa. So I found it intriguing to go there  and see with my own eyes how an FSC-certified forest concession is managed and what it takes to do it in a sustainable way, with respect for ecology and with respect for the people living there.  I was very impressed by the social performance of IFO which does a lot for the people living in the concession, next to providing almost 1100 jobs. I do have some questions about the harvesting of the much wanted tree species called Sapelli, but I am convinced IFO is doing a very good job, both socially and ecologically. I also think that IFO would perform just as well without being certified. On the other hand, having to comply with FSC-standards, is a good tool to remain on the right track.

3. What is sustainability to you and why should it matter more?

MB To me sustainability first of all is care. Care for people, care for the environment, care for the things you have chosen to do. That is, if are lucky to have a choice. Sustainability is about justice, it is about availability of opportunities for everyone, for the strong and for the less strong. We live in a world where money and status seem to come first. In that perspective the global community is poor. So, to me, sustainability is about reduction of competition and  about enjoying life in all its forms, nature, art, spirituality, work, passion to create whatever is significant to yourself, enjoying love and friendship. Sustainability is also accepting and learning to see the beauty of the imperfect.  If we would learn that, we would be more at ease.


Meindert Brouwer

Meindert Brouwer (1951) is an independent communication consultant, a writer and a speaker, based in the Netherlands. He is specialized in the economic value and benefits of nature conservation and sustainable use of nature. Previously he has been employed by KPMG Accountants & Consultants and by Worldwide Fund for Nature WWF for 10 years (1994 – 2004).

Books of Meindert Brouwer are an international success:

The Ecosystem Promise (2012) has been distributed to 104 countries and is an introduction to the economic, cultural and spiritual values of nature. It presents best practices of sustainable use of nature and payments for ecosystem services around the world.
Reviews and news:

Amazon Your Business / Opportunities and solutions in the rainforest (2007), distributed to 88 countries. First guide to sustainable non-timber forest products from the rainforests of all Amazon countries: Brazil, Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador, Colombia, Venezuela, Guyana and Surinam.  Reviews and news:

Now Meindert Brouwer is working on a new book: Central African Forests Forever about conservation of forests and biodiversity and sustainable use of forests in Central Africa. The book is published in parts on the internet first, it grows like a tree. After completion, the book will be printed.  Internet version at  

Meindert Brouwer gives presentations around the world about the economic value and benefits of nature conservation and sustainable use of nature.

Sustainability report 2022

INTERHOLCO Sustainability Report 2022 cover

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