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Working together for sustainable forest management

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Hardwood supplier Wijma Kampen and Swiss company Precious Woods are working together to manage forests sustainably in Gabon, Africa. They want to introduce less well-known types of tropical wood in Europe. This will create new jobs and lead to more money for health, education and housing for the local communities. The Netherlands Enterprise Agency and the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) support this project.

Wijma Kampen and Precious Woods have a shared vision for corporate social responsibility. Together, they promote the use of certified tropical wood. The Fund for Responsible Business (FVO) has given them more capacity and financing. This will help them promote less well-known types of tropical wood, such as Omvong, Okan and Bilinga.

Wood is a circular material. This means it is sustainable, helps reduce CO2 emissions and is 100% recyclable. “More and more people are showing interest in tropical wood from Africa. And more and more often, companies are using this wood in buildings and infrastructure in Europe,” says Ad Wesselink. He is the Managing Director of Wijma Kampen. Wijma Kampen and Precious Woods play an important role in sustainable forest management in Africa.

Preserving biodiversity

The companies started their partnership through the FSC. The FSC is an international organisation dedicated to conservation and responsible forest management. The goal of the partnership is to promote less well-known types of wood. Mr Wesselink explains, “A forest does not produce only one type of wood, but many.”

Using different kinds of wood reduces the pressure on more well-known wood species and prevents them from becoming scarce. This preserves biodiversity. “This is important, especially because of climate change. The more biodiversity there is in a forest, the better that forest can deal with higher temperatures,” says Liesbeth Gort, Director of FSC Netherlands.

Economic sustainability

This new approach has another benefit. Logging companies can harvest more wood per hectare. This keeps sustainable forest management profitable and protects the forest from being cut down for less environmentally-friendly practices, such as palm oil production. The local community in Gabon benefits from this project, too. So far, the project has created 50 new jobs. It has also resulted in bigger investments in health, education and housing for the local communities.

Working together

Wijma Kampen and Precious Woods are a perfect match. Wijma Kampen has a lot of knowledge and experience with different types of African wood. Precious Woods exports the wood from Gabon. The FSC and Wijma Kampen are looking at ways to use less well-known types of wood for civil and hydraulic engineering in Europe. They are also looking at how to introduce the wood to the European market.

Ms Gort calls the partnership a great example for others. “It is wonderful to see that parties in the Netherlands and Africa have the same values. It is also great that they are committed to sustainable forest management. We are going to invest in this together.”

Fund for Responsible Business

FVO is a subsidy programme from the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The Netherlands Enterprise Agency manages the programme. FVO helps businesses and civil-society organisations set up projects to remove risks and misconduct within their value chains worldwide. For more information, please visit the FVO page.