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WWF and global timber company team up to promote sustainable forestry in Africa

Press release from World Wildlife Fund | September 15, 2006

Frankfurt, Germany - WWF and the Danzer Group, a leading global producer of hardwood veneer and lumber, have agreed to work together in Africa to promote sustainable forest management.

As part of the cooperation, Danzer's subsidiaries, IFO in the Republic of Congo and SIFORCO in the Democratic Republic of Congo - which manage a combined total forest area of 3.2 million hectares - are scheduled to be certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) starting in 2008. This is the largest concession in Africa currently being prepared for FSC certification.

The FSC - set up in the early 1990s by a diverse group ranging from the forest industry to non-governmental organizations(NGOs), including WWF - ensures environmentally responsible, socially beneficial and economically viable management of forests through standard setting, trademark assurance and accreditation services for companies and organizations interested in sustainable forestry.

Danzer has also announced it will join WWF's Global Forest and Trade Network (GFTN), a partnership between leading NGOs, companies and communities aimed at eliminating illegal logging and improving the management of valuable and threatened forests.

"We look forward to working together within the framework of our membership of WWF's GFTN and to jointly undertake long-term efforts to effectively promote prudent and responsible forestry in the Central African forests," says Hans-Joachim Danzer, CEO of the Danzer Group.

"Illegal logging is a serious threat to producer companies and fair competition on world markets, and must be stopped."

Danzer is working closely with WWF in drawing up a detailed timetable for implementation, including detailed measures for its own managed forest concessions, procurement from third-party suppliers and all sales of African timber.

This schedule for certification will build upon the company's comprehensive Environmental and Safety Management System (ESMS) as well as the Danzer Group's strict procurement rules for African timber. The ESMS is based on the ISO 14001:2004 standard and covers the Danzer Group's entire global African supply chain from forest management and sourcing of timber to the processing and sale of products.

Through its ESMS, Danzer has already met a number of requirements for certification of its own sustainably managed forests. Both IFO and SIFORCO have been granted an independently verified legality certificate by the Swiss auditing company, Socit G驩nrale de Surveillance. The measures and schedule for achieving FSC certification, which will be drawn up by WWF and Danzer in the coming months, are a requirement of GFTN membership.

Danzer's IFO concession, comprising a total of 1.3 million hectares, is scheduled to achieve FSC certification in 2008. Gradual certification of SIFORCO's five concessions, totaling nearly 1.9 million hectares, is set to begin in 2010.

"By adhering to the requirements set forth in a certificate, customers can rest assured that the wood they buy from us comes from responsibly managed sources," added Hans-Joachim Danzer.

"We also hope that our joint activities with WWF will lead to a better mutual understanding of ecological demands and private economic interests in conjunction with sustainable forest management...while at the same time making an important contribution to the economic development of one of the world's poorest regions."

WWF has been active in the Congo Basin for many years and has worked to establish and oversee protected areas that provide safe habitats for endangered species such as gorillas, forest elephants and other wildlife in the region, as well as promote responsible forestry for the benefit of national economies and livelihoods of local communities. Despite their importance, the Congo's forests are threatened by illegal and destructive logging, poaching and smuggling of wildlife, and the illicit bushmeat trade.

"We believe that the cooperation between WWF and Danzer represents an important shift towards responsible forestry for some of the world's most threatened forests in the Congo Basin," says Per Rosenberg, GFTN Director.

"We are working to ensure that African wood supplied by Danzer comes from legally verifiable sources, and will help companies to progress towards sustainable management."

editors note * Danzer Group operates six veneer factories and five sawmills in Europe, North America and Africa, making it the world's largest manufacturer of hardwood veneers. These facilities primarily process regional timber to produce high-quality veneers and lumber. The Danzer Group employs a workforce of some 4,700 staff and posted a turnover of approximately 418 million in 2005.

* The Global Forest & Trade Network (GFTN) is WWF's initiative to eliminate illegal logging, improve the management of the world's valuable and threatened forests, and promote credible forest certification. By providing support to and facilitating trade links between progressive forest industry companies, the GFTN seeks to create market conditions that will help conserve the world's forests while providing economic and social benefits for the businesses and people that depend on them.

* In 2003, WWF launched the Producers Group (Forest and Trade Network) Initiative for Central and West Africa with the aim of eliminating illegal logging, improving the management of the world's valuable and threatened forests, and promoting credible forest certification within Africa.

For more information:
Markus Radday, WWF-Germany
Tel: +49 69 7914 4189

Johannes Zahnen, GFTN-Germany
Tel: +49 69 79144 191

Frank Schumann, Danzer Group
Tel: +49 69 242 86 140

Article has been adapted from a news release issued by World Wildlife Fund.

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