27.08.2018. Agriculture, mining and conventional logging stand among the major drivers of deforestation, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO,  State of the World’s Forests 2016). That is because those land-uses are often believed to have more economic allure, compared to Sustainable Forest Management (SFM). But is that really so?

According to a study carried out by INTERHOLCO, in the Congo Basin, the opposite is true.

INTERHOLCO assessed the value of SFM in a 1.16 million hectare forest concession in the Republic of Congo, compared to strict conservation and palm-oil production on a similar hypothetical area. Focusing on the impacts on vegetation, biomass and carbon, INTERHOLCO followed the methodology provided by the Natural Capital Coalition in its ‘Forest Products Sector Guide’.

The objective,’ explains Tom van Loon, INTERHOLCO’s Head of Sustainability, ‘was not to question the benefits of conservation areas, neither to exclude opportunities of palm oil production outside current forest management areas, but to evaluate the cost and benefits of different land-use types, supporting optimal decision-making in terms of economic and social development, while considering impacts to the forest ecosystem. Sustainable Forest Management with wood made in Africa is good, helps the climate and creates social value through employment and local development.’

Key findings from INTERHOLCO’s analysis include:

  • Sustainable Forest Management in African tropical forests has low impact on the forest ecosystems, thanks to very low intensity of harvest (about 0.5 trees per ha) and fast forest reconstitution, regeneration and tree regrowth.
  • Sustainable Forest Management in African tropical forests (at a return of EUR 43/ha/year or 50 mio EU on the forest concession area) provides 17 times more economic value than strict conservation, also creating social value, employment and local development.
  • Palm oil would theoretically provide about 700 times more economic value than strict conservation and about 40 times more than SFM. Nevertheless, this is outweighed by the significant CO2 emissions provoked by deforestation and irreversible loss of the forest ecosystem, associated resources and services.

The results are far from baffling, if one takes a holistic approach and not only considers the effects of reduced impact logging and SFM on the forest, but also their ability to protect wildlife and reduce CO2 emissions. Not to mention the wide range of socio-economic benefits for the local population, starting from the local employees directly involved in SFM.  Altogether, this forms the ‘Natural Capital’ that a tropical forest has to offer.

The conclusions will be integrated by INTERHOLCO in future monitoring indicators, to inform business decisions.

Click here to view a summary of INTERHOLCO’s case study on the Natural Capital Coalition web site

Click here for INTERHOLCO’s complete case study

Click here for INTERHOLCO’s presentation of the Natural Capital assessment

About The Natural Capital Coalition

The Natural Capital Coalition is a unique global multi-stakeholder collaboration that brings together leading initiatives and organisations to harmonise approaches to natural capital. 

About Interholco

Since 1962, INTERHOLCO AG is serving an international clientele with high-quality hardwood  – made in Africa: logs, lumber, laminated products and more. In addition to three processing sawmills, several kilns, a lamination mill and a planing mill, INTERHOLCO AG manages an FSC-certified 1.1 million ha forest concession in the Republic of Congo, employing about 1’000 people. Based in Switzerland, INTERHOLCO AG is one of the leading international suppliers of sustainable hardwood – made in Africa. 

Communications contact Interholco

Tullia Baldassarri Höger von Högersthal

INTERHOLCO AG, Schutzengelstr. 36, 6340 Baar, Switzerland
Tel.: +41 (0)41 767 03 82 

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