- New GPS mapping technology could be an answer in balancing the needs of the indigenous so-called "Pygmies" communities, the eco-system and the timber production in the recently awarded certificate in the Congo Basin – the world largest contiguous tropical forest certified.
The new handheld device, which is designed to be used by even an illiterate person, will allow the local rain forest communities identify and point at sensitive and sacred areas in the areas, which shall be mapped by the timber company for conservation.
According to Robert Hunink, Executive Vice President of the DHL Group, the technological achievement is what many in the industry had long thought impossible. "The TFT, along with other partners, provided us with technical guidance and access to new technologies, including a handheld mapping device that has made it possible for the Pygmy communities to communicate to us the specific forest resources that they hold sacred," Mr Hunink said.
The new technology, according to the timber company, will not only go a long way in ensuring conservation and in meeting the global required standards, but will also send a huge transformation in the timber trade by promoting responsible production and purchases, and encourage sustainable and economically viable deforestation.
With more than 1.8 million square kilometres tropical forest, and a home to large mammals, and other species, some of which are endemic, the Congo Basin cuts across six countries and its uncontrolled deforestation could be a serious factor in mitigating climate change, especially the effects of greenhouse gas emissions. The region loses about four million hectares each year due to what has been termed mainly effects of poverty, population increase, illegal logging, mining, poor forest management and converting of forests to agriculture land. The forests are also home to thousands of indigenous semi-nomadic forest dwellers, like the Mbendjele "Pygmy" communities of northern Congo, whose rich knowledge of the forests is disappearing as uncontrolled exploitation displaces them from their forest home.
The Congolaise Industrielle des Bois (CIB) and the Tropical Forest Trust (TFT) today announced that the major timber company has more than doubled the amount of certified rainforest it operates in the Congo Basin, creating the largest ever tract of contiguous certified tropical forest in the world, a total of 750,000 hectares
TFT is working in the Congo Basin - specifically in Cameroon, Congo Brazzaville and Gabon - on projects covering over 2 million hectares.
In order to ensure continued conservation management in the area, TFT is also launching the Centre of Social Excellence (CSE) for the Forests of the Congo Basin – a new project within its Climate Tree initiative, designed to address issues related to deforestation and its implication for the communities of local and indigenous people who live in the world's second largest area of contiguous tropical forest.
The Centre of Social Excellence is to focus on improving the understanding and linkages between forestry companies and indigenous communities, thereby encouraging dialogue and sustainable forestry management practices. The €1.6 million project has been granted key support from the Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation.
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