At Precious Woods we believe that only the best management practices are good enough to ensure the sustainable use of our world’s forests. Managing our forests, our industries and our trading activities in line with the two most sophisticated certifications schemes, we unequivocally stand up for our sustainability commitments.
The responsibility for all sustainable tasks is with the Board of Directors (BoD) of the Precious Woods Holding Ltd. in Switzerland. It defines the targets and actions to fulfil and guarantee the highest sustainability standards within the entire group. The BoD has the support of an Advisory Committee of specialists coming from universities, NGOs and other organizations.
Certification and Sustainability
Precious Woods is a worldwide leader in sustainable forest management and forest certification with all our forest operations 100% FSC FM and PEFC certified. We manage a total of 1 100 000 ha of natural tropical rain forests in Brazil and Gabon under double-certification. Our sawmills and veneer plants are 100% FSC-Chain of Custody (CoC) certified and only source wood harvested in our own certified forests. Our trading unit is 100% FSC-CoC certified and only trades wood from verified, legal and sustainable sources. Forest management certification is not only about environmental but social and economic sustainability too. We believe in this integral approach as the best way to achieve comprehensive sustainability.
Certification and sustainability goes hand in hand but demands continuous training, monitoring and improvement. Our sustainability and certification managers in Brazil and Gabon and their teams are working hard to guarantee Precious Woods’ position as a pioneer in sustainable and certified tropical rainforest management.
We believe that sustainability cannot end at our front door and thus, our suppliers must also share and respect our vision and our sustainability criteria. Being certified and acting sustainable is not only important for our business success but most of all an irreplaceable part of our companies’ DNA and therefore, we commit unconditionally to sustainability as well as to sustainable and certified forest management and CoC certification.
Precious Woods as a certified company is committed to respect national and international legislation. Acting in conformity to the legislation of our host countries is a matter of course. Respecting the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the rules of the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the International Labour Organization (ILO), the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) and the Stockholm and Rotterdam Conventions is self-evident for us.
Apart from legislations, we believe that ethical and sustainable business is only possible if all business processes are faire, transparent and free of any corruption and bribery. We highly value our host countries, their citizens and all international organisations campaigning for people’s rights and wellbeing and therefore, we commit unconditionally to the respect of national and international legislation and to our zero corruption and bribery policy.
Precious Woods employs more than 1 300 collaborators in Brazil, Gabon and Switzerland. Respecting human rights, national and international labour legislations and worker rights is self-evident for us. Paying salaries above minimum wages level and providing safety equipment and continuous training for our employees is an integrated part of our approach to Corporate Social Responsibility. To ensure the wellbeing of our employees, we address all aspects of occupational health and safety in compliance with the ILO Code of Practice on Safety and Health in Forestry Work.
Where operating in remote areas we also provide health care, food, housing and social activities to our employees and their families. Our staff is our most valuable capital and therefore, we commit unconditionally to our employees’ rights, occupational health and safety, and training.
Local communities and Business Ethics
Precious Woods operates in forests that have been used by local communities under customary rights ever since. Respecting these communities’ rights is a crucial part of our business ethic. Human, indigenous and local rights as well as local and customary property rights are respected at any moment. Implementing our rigorous Free, Prior and Informed Consent procedures guarantees the respect of these rights through the inclusion of all parties. We appreciate local communities as our partners and therefore, we commit unconditionally to the rights of local communities and to the principles of Free, Prior and Informed Consent.
Research and Public Cooperation
Precious Woods believes in continuous improvements and research as the best way to make Sustainable Forest Management the only choice for best practice today and in the future.
Cooperation with state agencies and research institutions is key to realistic, practical and implementable solutions. Our open and bilateral cooperation with forest authorities and environmental agencies makes them partners rather than regulatory authorities. Our close ties to national and international research institutions allow practical research on our sites and valuable exchange between economic and institutional actors. Amongst many others, we collaborate closely with the World Conservation Society (WCS), the Franceville University of Science and Technology (USTM), the University of Amazonas (UFAM), Gembloux Agro-Bio Tech (ULIège), Nature+ and the Berne University of Applied Sciences (BFH-HAFL).
We believe only the newest and best research results can foster the importance of Sustainable Forest Management and therefore, we commit unconditionally to research cooperation with state agencies and research institutions.
Biosystems and High Conservation Values
Precious Woods operates inside of complex forest biosystems and the sustainable use as well as the protection of these biosystems is a crucial aspect of our daily business. The fundamental rule of our approach to Sustainably Forest Management is the preservation of the forest area and the avoidance of deforestation.
We emphasise on the fact that biodiversity conservation is crucial in protected as well as in production forests and that protection of flora and fauna covered by national and international legislation, such as CITES, is unalterable. In production forest we are always using reduced impact logging methods to avoid damage to the biosystem. We also reduce the impact of forest roads using anticipatory planning approaches and low impact methods and thus, minimizing road lengths and widths. Soils, in particular peats and swamps, are one of the most vulnerable parts of the forest ecosystem. Ensuring their preservation is critical for flora regeneration and thus, for the sustainability of the forests. Limiting the extend of roads and trails by sound and deliberate planning of road construction and timber extracting is one of the key tasks of our managers and foremen.
High Conservation Values (HCV) and other protection areas are an essential element of high-ranking certifications schemes. We believe in the importance of HCVs and that an appropriate proportion of a forest concession should be put under protection. A total of 70 300 ha or 6% of our forests have been assessed as HCVs and are integrally excluded from any activities.
Non-Timber Forest Products (NTFP) are a source of revenue for our communities and might become a more important economic factor in the future too. To assure an ecological, economic and social sustainability of NTFPs the same approaches as for timber production are needed. We do monitor the use of NTFP in our areas and we support research on the sustainable use of NTFPs.
The 1 100 000 ha of forest under our management are located in remote areas and accessible for local communities. However, people with criminal intention, such as poaching or illegal logging, might also try to enter our forests and harm their ecosystem. To avoid such negative impacts, we block access to our forests on the entry points and we constantly patrol our forests if possible in cooperation with state authorities and communities.
We are aware that the world’s forests are under pressure and that as concession holder and owner of natural tropical rainforests we are responsible to avoid and mitigate negative impacts on our forests. Therefore, we commit unconditionally to the preservation of our forests’ biodiversity and to the HCV principles.
Carbon and Chemicals
Precious Woods manages large forest areas in a sustainable way which also means managing an enormous and permanent carbon stock of around 330 million tons of carbon. We operate in remote areas without power supply but in an industry depending on energy. In our Brazilian operation we do produce our own electricity in a co-generation plant using our biomass. Forest operations in Brazil and all operations in Gabon do highly depend on fossil energies. Reducing CO2 emissions form fossil energy production is thus key for ecological and economic sustainability.
The use of heavy machinery and the processing and treatment of our wood requires the use of chemical products at some points of the process although avoiding and reducing the use of chemicals is a stated target. It is self-evident that whenever using chemicals we follow our certification schemes and we do respect the guidelines of the WHO and the Stockholm and Rotterdam Conventions.
Carbon emission and chemical pollution are a worldwide issue and therefore, we commit unconditionally to the reduction of C02 emissions and the use of chemicals as one of our main goals.