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Our in-house sawmill in Africa

Interholco has its own production plant in the Republic of Congo, IFO (Industrie Forestière d'Ouesso). Take a look at the map.

We hold an FSC® Forest Management 1 certification for our 1.16 million hectares (2.9 million acres) forest management unit.

It is the largest FSC certified timber concession in the tropics.

Our goal is to manage forests well and sustainably, to secure a long-term supply of high-quality wood.

The tropical forests in West- and Central Africa are valuable renewable resources. Development of a sustainable forest and wood economy is an economic and social incentive for the population to maintain the forest cover. It has to be determined which forest areas are available on a long-term basis for forestry and which, due to their uniqueness, have to be preserved as protected areas and national parks.

1 FSC® C122325; FSC® C123513

Selective Logging

IFO practices selective logging and do not use a clear-cut system in the forest. Selective means that IFO harvests about 0.5 tree per hectare (5-10 cubic metres volume per hectare) which is equal to one tree in an area of four football fields. The harvest covers only 1/30 of the production forest area, once every 30 years. More than 28% of the forest area is conservation or protection area and not harvested.

On average, industrial timber represents 0.3 m³ (0.4 cubic yards) per hectare of production forest per year in the Congo Basin. In terms of volume per forest area, this represents one-eighth of the volume per area harvested in the temperate forests of North America and Europe. Regeneration and ingrowth of younger trees takes place naturally. This occurs fast in the dynamic tropical rain forests. The foundation for good forest management in the tropics is maintaining enough young trees and using natural regeneration rather than planting trees in a dense and diversified forest.

Forest Management Plan

A forest management plan provides the basis for the sustainable use of forests as well as the efficient utilization of wood. It also takes into account the rights and needs of the local population, local communities and indigenous peoples.

The plan is based on extensive ecological and socio-economic studies. It determines the annual allowable cut and encompasses protection measures for plants, wildlife and human settlements. Due to an extensive inventory, the volume and species to be harvested during the next 30 years and beyond have been identified. To reduce the impact of harvesting, all trees to be harvested are positioned on detailed maps, with GPS coordinates.

Combating Poverty

Responsible forest management means also contributing to the sustainable development of the region and countries we operate, in particular combating poverty. We have made significant investments in Africa by setting up local wood-processing plants. It has skilled a workforce and has generated tax and export revenues. Also, we have built schools, roads and small hospitals at our operations.

Social responsibility

Interholco and swisspeace developed a “Conflict Due Diligence Manual” to assure that human and local community rights are respected, that local communities participate actively in responsible forest management

It includes the implementation of the principles of ‘Free, Prior and Informed Consent’ of forest activities that affect the indigenous peoples and local communities (cf. Guidance note 6). An important aspect is the recognition of the right to land, territories and access to natural resources (cf. Guidance note 9) and the “respect, protect and mitigation” principles for human rights.

Interholco is committed to the principles of the manual and is implementing it.

Conflict Due Diligence Manual (swisspeace-Interholco) (english)

Conflict Due Diligence Manual (swisspeace-Interholco) (french)

African Literacy Program

Langouani, Idjouki, Pangoani, three words in three Pygmee dialects ‘Mikaya’, ‘Bangombe’, ‘Mbendjele’ of northen Congo Brazzaville that means “Wake up”. This is the name of the first school for semi-nomadic people in the Ngombé forest area of Congo Brazzaville’s department of the Sangha.

The “Center for the Education of Indigenous Peoples” (CEPA) officially opened the doors of this new school on November 16th 2009 to approximately 100 children between 6 and 14 years old who had never attended a class before.

The school became a recognized public school and was transferred to the congolese administration in 2014.

The school’s literacy program is adapted to the needs of the Pygmée children and prepares them for a regular school program. The specific school was necessary to take into account their semi-nomadic lifestyle linked to the seasonal supply of fish, edible caterpillars, mushrooms,…


Legal Documentation IFO