05.06.2021. A forest is more than a question of trees. People live in and from it, shaping their survival, identity and beliefs around it. At the same time, a forest is home to hundreds of species of animals and trees; it feeds water basins, stocks carbon and regulates rain regimes which affect far away countries.
A forest is thus a living body in which multiple interactions occur. The Ngombé forest that INTERHOLCO manages in the North of the Republic of Congo is no exception.
Covering a surface of 11’600 km2, the Ngombé forest hosts more than 80 villages, with about 16’000 forest inhabitants. As verified by FSC® auditors once a year, INTERHOLCO provides more than 1’400 workers with multiple benefits, extended to their families and communities.
INTERHOLCO’s forest sits between two National Parks: Odzala-Kokoua (13’500 km2) and Ntokou-Pikounda (4’572 km2), two integrally protected areas that the Republic of Congo manages for conservation purposes. Despite the Route Nationale 2, the state-built highway cutting through Odzala Kokoua park and Ngombé, all one sees is a large, uninterrupted stretch of forest roughly the size of Belgium.
Thousands of elephants and gorillas (to name but two emblematic species) cross back and forth, as the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) found out in a survey carried out in 2014 and the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) in a 2009 study.
As agreed with the Congolese state, owner of the parks as well as of the Ngombé forest, INTERHOLCO is required to secure the area against unauthorised settlement, illegal harvesting, poaching, bushmeat trade and irreversible change.
Mr. BOKANDZA coordinates the activities of 40 law-enforcing eco-guards in the Ngombé forest. “We patrol the forest against illegal activities,” affirms Mr. BOKANDZA. “Also, we ensure that company vehicles are not used by poachers. Regular checkpoints make sure that those that drive into the forest are not complicit in illegal activities.” No wonder the area is a biodiversity eden.
As a forest is an eco-system and a public good, and millions depend on it, dealing with a forest means taking care of a social landscape, too. INTERHOLCO regularly cross-checks its actions with the expectations of employees, their immediate communities, indigenous peoples, civil society, customers, international organizations, government representatives, scientific experts and journalists.
Sustainability is everyone’s business and INTERHOLCO’s contribution to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) stretches far beyond UN SDG 15, Life on Land. In fact, ‘Sustainable Hardwood – Made in Africa’, INTERHOLCO’s core product, delivers a good many other co-products, such as biodiversity conservation, climate change mitigation, rural development, social well-being and economic growth. To walk the talk, INTERHOLCO has chosen to adhere to the 10 principles of the UN Global Compact as well as to the principles and criteria of FSC forest management certification, the most demanding currently available.
Wood from sustainably harvested natural forests is a forever renewable, beautiful raw material, playing a key role in the CO2 capture and storage processes. ‘Sustainable Hardwood – Made in Africa’, INTERHOLCO’s flagship product is engineered to foster health and well-being and to satisfy the needs of future-minded consumers, via a solid commitment to turn it into a forest of solutions: for forest, people and planet.
Celebrate World Environment Day responsibly, choose wood!
*This article was originally published on the blog of the UN Global Compact Network - Switzerland on 5.6.2021 : https://bit.ly/UNGlobal-Compact-IHC
INTERHOLCO offers Sustainable Hardwood 'Made in Africa' as a responsible solution to promote better living conditions (construction with wood), reduce climate change, and increase social justice. As FSC-certified producer specialized in producing and trading logs, sawn timber, glued laminated scantlings and other products, INTERHOLCO manages the entire chain, from forest to customers since 1962. Harvesting wood selectively, INTERHOLCO protects 1.1 million hectares of natural forest from permanent conversion to agricultural land, giving 16’000 local inhabitants access to quality basic services and keeping the habitat of thousands of gorillas and elephants.
Communications contact INTERHOLCO
Tullia Baldassarri Höger von Högersthal
INTERHOLCO AG, Schutzengelstr. 36, 6340 Baar, Switzerland
Tel.: +41 (0)41 767 03 82