The regional scope of the standard covers The Republic of Cameroon, The Republic of Congo, The Republic of Gabon, The Democratic Republic of Congo, The Central African Republic and The Republic of Equatorial Guinea.

The standard is approved as of 26 April 2012 with a number of conditions set by the PSC, which need to be addressed by the end of 2012. In the meantime, the standard will be used by all Certification Bodies (CBs) operating in the region, along with the annexes published for each country. The standard and its relevant annexes can be downloaded from the FSC website here.

The standard effective date is 1 September 2012. The intervening period is in place for CBs to adapt their systems to the new standard. CBs are required to inform all their clients in Cameroon, Congo-Brazzaville, Democratic Republic of Congo, Gabon, Central African Republic and Equatorial Guinea, that they shall be assessed against the revised standard from 1 September 2012.

As audits will take place over the course of the year, all existing clients shall be audited against the new standard by 1 September 2013 in order to remain certified and any certificate against the old standard will be considered expired by FSC as of this date.

Where Major Corrective Action Requests (CARs) are issued as a result of a non compliance with a new requirement, the client may be granted the extended time of 6 months to close this Major CAR (ref. FSC-STD-20-007 clause 8.10). New requirements are those elements which are entirely new to the standard rather than rewording of previous requirements.

The following conditions will be applied following this approval:

Condition 1: Streamlining the regional standard at country level with the approved FLEGT Legality Grids for each country, by the end of June 2012;
Condition 2: Field test at national level by the end of 2012;
Condition 3: Integrate HCV guidance once it is ready at the international level by the end of 2012;
Condition 4: Transfer to the new P&C by the end of the International Generic Indicator process in 2013.

A process of adaptation at the national level is now underway, which will incorporate the Forest Law Enforcement Governance and Trade (FLEGT) Legality Grids for the Republic of Cameroon, Congo Brazzaville and Central African Republic as the current signed Voluntary Partnership Agreement (VPA) countries in the region. This will help facilitate recognition of FSC certificates as a route to FLEGT licensed timber. The adaptation for the other three countries covered by the regional scope of the standard will follow once their VPAs are signed.

Congratulations to the FSC Congo Basin Regional Standards Development Group.