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Many activities despite major challenges
FSC and PAFC recertification audits for forestry management and for chain of custody (CoC) were carried out successfully at our two sites in Bambidie and Owendo. The CoC audit was performed online due to travel restrictions, which was a particular challenge for both our team and the auditors. With this continued high level and our dual certification, we remain the pioneering company in sustainable forest management in the tropics.
In addition to our certification activities, our projects in the past year included the following:
- At the beginning of the school year, we carried out another school supplies campaign. School supplies procured in large quantities were given to the children of our employees at reduced prices, enabling them to start school successfully.
- In cooperation with the ministry responsible for forestry and the NGO Conservation Justice, a joint wildlife protection project was implemented. Forestry ministry employees stationed in Bambidie regularly patrol our forest to prevent poaching and to protect wildlife. The project has already had considerable success, underscoring the importance of this partnership.
- The launch of our new sawmill created 50 new jobs. To accommodate this increase, we have also expanded the infrastructure in Bambidie and built a new neighbourhood with 50 homes for these employees and their families in our camp. We have also enlarged our health clinic and built additional classrooms for the primary school and kindergarten, as well as homes for additional teachers.
- The P3FAC-AFRITIMB research project was continued. The goal of this project is to study forest dynamics in the Congo Basin and to better understand those dynamics in the context of sustainable forest management. In order to provide researchers with reliable reference data, we have excluded one zone from forest management for this purpose. We also actively supported more than 10 other research projects.
- Again in 2020, permanent test areas also provided data to the AfriTRON and RAINFOR projects, which research forest dynamics and forests as carbon reservoirs at the global level.
- We had the pleasure of welcoming a delegation from the ministry responsible for forestry, which is working on implementation of a nationwide project to reduce carbon emissions and preserve carbon reservoirs in the forest. Due to our experience in resource-preserving forest management, Precious Woods-CEB was chosen to test the new system for the first time.
- Because of the pandemic, external training had to be reduced to a minimum. Nevertheless, we were able to conduct numerous training sessions for our logging teams with internal experts. The goal is to perfect the knowledge and skills of our employees in reduced impact logging.
- The cultural offerings and activities of the Centre Culturel were also impaired, but some activities could still be carried out. For example, volunteers made a variety of cloth face masks for our employees.
Precious Woods Gabon in brief
PW Gabon consists of two companies: CEB (Compagnie Equatoriale des Bois) and TGI (Tropical Gabon Industrie). Since 2007, PW Gabon has been managing a tropical forest in Eastern Gabon across a concession area of 596 800 hectares. In 2014, a protected area of 19 900 hectares was separated out. Starting in October 2020, the veneer company (TGI) was spun off and TGI now holds a stake of 49 % in Compagnie des placages de la Lowé (CPL). CEB employs 858 persons and CPL about 200. Each year, approximately 240 000 cubic meters of logs are harvested. The company operates according to a sustainable forest management plan that ensures that no more timber is harvested per hectare than will grow back within a harvest cycle of 25 years. PW Gabon runs two sawmills and a small moulding plant in Bambidie, the centre base of PW Gabon’s forestry operation. The CPL rotary veneer factories for Okoumé veneer and selected hardwoods are located in Owendo, a suburb of the port city Libreville. The main export markets for PW Gabon’s manufactured timber products are Europe, South Africa, and Asia. PW Gabon’s forestry operation has been FSC-certified since October 2008 and the veneer chain of custody since January 2010. The forestry operation has also been PAFC-certified since 2017. Both operations were PAFC-certified for CoC in 2018.