Forest certification and its social and economic requirements can offer substantial benefits to forest workers, participants at a recent training workshop in Gabon found.
The workshop "Timber and Woodworkers' Unions and Forest Certification in the Congo Basin: Status and Prospects in Gabon”, organized by the Building and Wood Workers’ International (BWI) with the LO-TCO Secretariat of International Trade Union Development Co-operation brought together more than twenty representatives of three trade union federations from the forestry, veneer, sawn timber and woodworkers in October 2010 to build capacity about the opportunities that PEFC certification offers for workers.
"Forest Certification has become an indispensable tool for the promotion of timber in most western markets , but unfortunately the advantages it offers not only for trade, but also for forest workers, have not yet been well promoted among the timber and woodworkers' unions in Gabon,” said Dr. Rose Ondo Ntsame, President of PAFC Gabon. PAFC Gabon is the first national forest certification system that has achieved global recognition through PEFC, the world’s largest forest certification system and certification system of choice for small- and family forest owners.
Overcoming this gap has been one of the objectives of the workshop, Abdoul Karim Ouedraogo, Coordinator of BWI for francophone Africa explained. He emphasized that forest certification is an important instrument in ensuring decent work conditions and fair renumeration, and highlighted that "it is time that workers' interests in forest certification are safeguarded by workers themselves, thus workers should become involved at all levels in the process.”