03.08.2020. The Minister of Tourism and Environment, Ms. Arlette Soudan-Nonault, visited the Industrie Forestière de Ouesso (IFO) in the Sangha Department, in the North of the Republic of Congo on August 3rd, 2020.
‘IFO is most grateful for the visit of Ms. Arlette Soudan-Nonault, Congolese Minister of Tourism and Environment,’ stated IFO Director General Patrick Geffroy, adding: ‘IFO appreciates the most valuable discussions and advice, and will continue to comprehensively follow guidance received by the Minister of Tourism and Environment’.
During the visit of Minister Soudan-Nonault, it was discussed that IFO had submitted the Environmental and Social Impact Assessment (ESIA) required for its facilities in early 2019 to the respective authorities at the Ministry of Tourism and Environment and amended it in October 2019. Immediately following the visit by the Minister, IFO was informed that their Environmental and Social Impact Assessment complies with the requirements and was approved by the respective technical committee.
‘We are now completing the technical formalities and hope that the certificate of conformity will be issued by the Ministry shortly. We are looking forward to the associated environmental audit, which will be organized by the Ministry of Tourism and Environment and the Prefect of the Sangha Department,’ Patrick Geffroy commented.
The Environmental and Social Management Plan (ESMP) which follows the ESIA approval will be implemented by IFO and advice will be provided by the respective interministerial technical commission. The ESMP related to the ESIA of the new heavy wood factory, will be made available to the Minister.
Mr. Ulrich Grauert, CEO of INTERHOLCO, IFO’s parent company, affirmed: “Since INTERHOLCO purchased the IFO (formerly SCBO) from the Congolese government, we have closely followed and complied with any advice by the Government and Authorities. At INTERHOLCO and IFO, we view not only governmental advice and external audits, but any external input - especially by local authorities, peoples, communities and constituents - as a chance to improve our conduct of business. We very much appreciate suggestions and advice we receive. We hope that the respective authorities can help us with suggestions and advice to continue improving waste disposal and ameliorating our business practices.”
During her visit, the Minister of Tourism and Environment, Ms. Soudan-Nonault, was informed that IFO has always met its financial obligations, as specified in the agreements with the Government of the Republic of Congo.
IFO appreciates the initiative by Minister Soudan-Nonault, to set up a joint working group between the Ministry of Tourism and Environment, the Ministry of Forest Economy and IFO to assist the company in comprehensively meeting environmental provisions and regulations. INTERHOLCO and IFO have offered their help to expedite this initiative and are looking forward to receiving advice from the respective Ministries on how this joint working group will be mandated and implemented.
‘It is in not only in our own interest to fully meet the expectations of the governmental authorities of the Republic of Congo, but - more importantly - it is in the best interest of the peoples and communities as well as the unique natural resources we work with,” concluded Patrick Geffroy.
INTERHOLCO offers Sustainable Hardwood 'Made in Africa' as a responsible solution to promote better living conditions (construction with wood), reduce climate change, and increase social justice. As FSC-certified producer specialized in producing and trading logs, sawn timber, glued laminated scantlings and other products, INTERHOLCO manages the entire chain, from forest to customers since 1962. Harvesting wood selectively, INTERHOLCO protects 1.1 million hectares of natural forest from permanent conversion to agricultural land, giving 16’000 local inhabitants access to quality basic services and keeping the habitat of thousands of gorillas and elephants.
Tullia Baldassarri Höger von Högersthal
INTERHOLCO AG, Schutzengelstr. 36, 6340 Baar, Switzerland
Tel.: +41 (0)41 767 03 82