FSC forest management certification has grown at a rapid rate (572 per cent) in Namibia over the last three years.
FSC Southern Africa Coordinator, Manushka Moodley, attributes this significant growth to multiple reasons:
- the increased market demand for FSC-certified charcoal in Europe,
- the high availability of forest resources in Namibia,
- land restoration objectives implemented by local land owners/managers and the Namibian government, and
- the positive attitude of farmers, skilled consultants and organizations towards certification in the supply chain.
German-based retailers, Aldi Süd and Aldi Nord, and their Austrian-based subsidiary, Hofer, also contributed to the growth of certification via a partnership with FSC International. This project directly contributed to the certification of 190,000 hectares in Namibia, involving 28 farmers in their supply chain. The German charcoal trader DHG makes sure that FSC certified, ready-for-retail-packed charcoal is shipped from Namibia to Europe and also distributed by Aldi and Hofer.
Environmental Compliance Consultancy (ECC) Director, Mr. Stephan Bezuidenhout, who worked with some of these farmers to get them certified, said that “The past 5 years have seen an exponential growth of FSC-certified rangeland. FSC’s presence in the country and assistance in drafting a Namibian national standard are key contributors to the growth. Practical implementation, responsible farming and transparency will ensure a sustainable future for Namibia’s rangeland and associated activities.”
The Namibian Charcoal Association (NCA) Chairperson, Mr. Gunter Schwalm1, also shared his enthusiasm regarding this achievement: “The growth of certified area in Namibia has provided landowners and workers in the industry with an income during a difficult drought whilst meeting the restoration objectives needed in our landscape. The provision of FSC-certified charcoal to international markets will continue to contribute to the growth of our local economy and assist with employment opportunities.”
Additionally, Namibia is the first country in Africa that has obtained an FSC group chain of custody certificate. 11 different organizations are gathered under this certificate – issued to CMO Namibia (Pty) Ltd. Dr. Michal Brink, who leads CMO – the company managing this certificate, as well as the largest forest management one in Namibia – explained that CMO “decided to establish an FSC chain of custody group scheme to provide local processors in the Namibian charcoal industry with an opportunity to join the FSC value chain at an affordable cost, thereby unlocking the bottleneck in the FSC charcoal supply chain destined for the European markets.”
The FSC group certificate holders have also included non-timber forest products, such as venison, into their scope of forest management certification. These products bring additional value to their group members.
1 Mr. Gunter Schwalm recently passed away. Our sincere condolences to his family. He will be fondly remembered by FSC.