Forest certification for social welfare Data backs certification over the law in the Congo Basin

For forest workers in the Congo Basin, life can be very different depending on whether their employer seeks certification or not. While one logging company may bring access to medical facilities, water supply, waste disposal systems and safety equipment, another might bring little more than a wage.

Voluntary certification schemes, which ensure timber production meets higher standards than those requested by the law, have been lauded as a way to improve social conditions. So, in the Congo Basin – where some 4.8 million hectares of forest are certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) – CIFOR’s researchers set out to investigate the claims.

The results were clear. Driven by higher standards, FSC certified forests offer better living and working conditions than those that are noncertified. Results have been delivered worldwide, and international organizations such as FSC and WWF are using the data to improve the current standards and possibly enhance even more socio-economic conditions in the forests of the Congo basin.

  Certified timber forests Noncertified timber forests
Mechanisms for damage compensation to local communities 100% 25%
Procedures to control and verify use of safety equipment 90% 25%
Local medical facilities 100% 38%
Written procedures for waste collection and treatment in villages 100% 20%
Individual home showers and WC systems in housing for workers 100% 46%


Related publication

This Occasional Paper assessed the social performance of nine forest management units (FMU) certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) and compared it with the performance of nine similar noncertified FMUs in Cameroon, the Republic of the Congo and Gabon.