Congo:FSC is hoping to certify logging that will cause elephant extirpation

A new research paper (see abstract below) on the behavioural patterns of forest elephants has dealt a major blow to the myth of ‘sustainable logging’ in the rainforests of the Congo Basin. One of the areas specifically referred to in the paper as being negatively impacted is covered by the concessions of Congolaise Industrielle des Bois (CIB) that is currently being ‘pre-assessed’ for FSC certification by Rainforest Alliance SmartWood. CIB has already gained FSC certification for two of its five concessions in northern Republic of Congo, which together cover 1.3 million hectares of once pristine rainforest. The earlier two concessions were certified by SGS, and it is not known why CIB has decided to now switch certifier. Although SmartWood has circulated notices of its intent to carry out a ‘pre-assessment’ of CIB’s Loundougou concession from December 2nd-9th, the company does not feature on the Rainforest Alliance’s website under ‘ongoing assessments’, and neither is there a Country Certification Assessment Standard for Congo. Exactly what SmartWood is conducting its ‘pre-assessment’ against is therefore not known. Unfortunately for SmartWood, which is no doubt relishing the prospect of breaking into the potentially highly lucrative Congo Basin certification market by issuing the new CIB certificates, the elephants of northern Congo are amongst the most researched in the world. Numerous studies have shown how they play an absolutely critical role in the forests’ ecological processes, such as through the dispersal of tree seeds in their dung, and creating disturbed areas in which forest plants can regenerate. The Wildlife Conservation Society, which has led much of the research in northern Congo, has decribed the role of elephants as being akin to ‘forest engineers’. Any process, such as the building of logging roads, which serves to threaten the distribution or activities of forest elephants, is a major threat to the ecological balance of the forest itself. The new research shows that elephants are critically limited by the opening of roads which they are highly reluctant to cross, particularly those outside strictly protected areas, and therefore retreat to un-roaded areas.

Posted via email from Deane’s posterous

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