The film teases the idea of how sustainably managed forests, like FSC-certified concessions may be the new model for forestry – enabling the preservation of its environment and wildlife.
In the documentary “Kongo - Schutz für den Gorillawald” (“Congo - Protection for the Gorilla Forest”), German director Thomas Weidenbach has shot extensively in the FSC-certified logging concession of IFO, Interholco in the Republic of Congo, a stronghold for 70,000 Western lowland gorillas.
These gorillas, who live within and around the concession, represent a quarter of the world’s gorilla population and the largest concentration of this species. According to censuses carried out in 2007 and 2014, the population of these gorillas remains constant. In comparison, the number of gorillas in other areas on the continent are in decline.
This growth tends to prove that contrary to common belief, gorillas can coexist with lumberjacks provided the loggers respect their natural habitat. The presence of the IFO lumberjacks seems to keep poachers away and contribute to an increase in the area where gorillas can feel safe – now twice the size of Belgium.
In turn, gorillas who are big fruit eaters, contribute to forest regeneration by spreading seeds across the rainforest.
Certified forest concessions under FSC are also required to maintain constant dialogue with local communities – including the Indigenous Peoples – to help protect their interests, keep them informed of the company’s harvest activities and to some extent, provide jobs. Through this dialogue, the company educates forest inhabitants about the benefits of managing forests sustainably and preserving their flora and wildlife.
The film shows how the rules followed by IFO to comply with FSC requirements play a major role in this peaceful cohabitation. IFO lumberjacks only cut one tree every two hectares – the equivalent of two football pitches – on average. The concession is divided into 30 different areas, and only one of these areas gets harvested annually to let other sections of forest regenerate for 30 years.
Additionally, 27 per cent of the total forest surface is set aside permanently to preserve the trees, providing valuable resources for local populations – including local Indigenous Peoples – and providing shelters where there is a high concentrations of animals and rare plant species.
All these measures have proved to be positive for the conservation of gorillas.