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Certification of tropical forests: a private instrument of public interest? A focus on the Congo Basin

Karsenty A.. 2019. Forest Policy and Economics, 106 : 7 p..

DOI: 10.1016/j.forpol.2019.101974

Forest management certification seems to be stagnating or even receding in the Congo basin. This is attributable to the financial difficulties of some European companies, but might also be a consequence of unexpected interactions with the FLEGT process, which is lagging behind in the Congo Basin. Although this process and private certifications are expected to be complementary, the reluctance of EU authorities to give certified timber a ¿green lane¿ for entering the European market may discourage concessionaires from seeking a stringent certificate, while the demand for timber is increasingly shifting towards markets in China and other emerging countries that are not ready to pay a ¿price premium¿. An underlying issue is the difficulty in qualifying the added value of certified timber over legal timber, although some research has shown how certification has closed loopholes in public regulations. Recognition of the public interest of certification could be achieved through fully trusting private certificates for due diligence procedures and, eventually, for obtaining FLEGT licences. Public verification and traceability efforts would be re-centred on non-certified timber and the informal sector, which intersects with forest tenure issues. While some countries wish to make certification compulsory, this article prefers to propose the use of financial incentives through differentiated forest taxes, in order to preserve the credibility of standards, and it details potential mechanisms that could reinforce the independence of auditors.

Mots-clés : forêt tropicale humide; certification des forêts; impôt; réglementation forestière; congo; république démocratique du congo; afrique centrale; cameroun

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