Fighting global warming by helping reforesting 50.000 hectares

Supporting organisations that improve the ecological and social situation and at the same time fighting global warming is embedded in our CSR approach. Faja Lobi is one of them.

Sioen supports Faja Lobi in reforesting

Sioen supports the NGO Faja Lobi in fighting global warming by reforesting large areas in Congo. In addition, their educational, economic and health programs contribute to the reconstruction of civil society. Faja Lobi's goal is to reforest 50 000 hectares in the near future. Congo has the second largest continuous rainforest in the world. Hence, preservation and restauration are key. For the country. For our world.

Sioen supports the NGO Faja Lobi that aims to improve the ecological and social situation within the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Turbulent situation

Population growth is putting considerable pressure on the world's natural resources. In Congo, especially the overexploitation by agriculture causes severe degradation of soil and vegetation. Moreover, the human outflow from the villages is flooding cities. These towns lack the necessary infrastructure, employment and government support to handle this influx of people. Hence, a turbulent situation, that causes major problems for the local economy and the living environment. Ultimately, this leads to conflicts over land use and promotes serious forms of corruption.

Urban and rural

In urban areas, Faja Lobi's cultural, educational, economic and health programs contribute to the reconstruction of civil society.

In rural areas, our reforestation program takes up the challenge of restoring the natural environment. With a solid reforestation and agroforestry program, Faja Lobi are consciously combating climate change.

Jürgen Heytens, founder and inspirer of Faja Lobi: “2020 was a difficult year for us. Because of COVID-19, our fixed income from our catering business in Ghent came to a standstill, we had a forest fire on one of our sites, we had to pay expensive import duties after a long drag of administration to import duty-free as an NGO, and then on top of it all, there was a house fire where I lived”.

It’s inspirational and heart-warming how Jurgen and his team reacted to all those major setbacks: “We have also worked very hard and managed to plant 2700 ha of forest (even the forest fires have been completely replanted). In 2021, we are building up our house and further expanding the urban project and the reforestation.”

People centric

“We hire local people to achieve our goals” emphasises founder Jürgen Heytens. “This is a big difference with other NGOs, which mainly employ western workers to realise their projects.”

Currently, 580 local workers are working together in the reforestation project. Approximately 80% of FajaLobi's budget contributes to the welfare of the workers. This includes paying salaries, providing meals and offering scholarships for the local youth.

Jürgen Heytens: “Providing support to the local community is one of the most fundamental values of our organisation. The purchase of tractors and other machines is deliberately avoided so that we can provide an income to as many people as possible. Furthermore, the organisation helps with planning and financing necessary infrastructure, which already resulted in the construction of a hospital, a carpentry workshop, an internet cafe and a restaurant.

Ambitious plans

Despite the temporary setback in 2020, the plans of Faja Lobi are very ambitious. Jürgen Heytens: “Faja Lobi's goal is to reforest 50 000 hectares near Idiofa in the near future. These new forests will be planted near the savanna highlands of Idiofa. The reforestation of these areas will prevent further desertification of the region. Well-thought-out forest management and deliberate logging will make responsible timber trade possible in the future (period 50 - 80 years). By cultivating new (felling) forest, the pressure on Congo's primeval forest decreases. Ultimately, it is these precious forests that need the most protection.”

Sioen’s contribution

The cost to grow one hectare of forest by Faja Lobi is €220 / $250. Three years of forest maintenance costs €280 / $320. This results in a total cost of €500/ha ($570/ha).

Michele Sioen, CEO of Sioen Industries: “Helping this organisation was a no-brainer. As their cause, approach and outcome totally fits our vision of making this world a better place. We’re committed to helping realise the targets set in the United Nations 17 Sustainable Development Goals. Taking climate actions (SDG 13), better life on land (SDG 15), no poverty (SDG 1) and zero hunger (SDG 2), 4 SDG’s we take at heart.”

As the NGO needs lots of materials, garments and equipment, Sioen chose to donate goods that are immediately useful while planting and cultivating forests:

  • Pond liners to make water collection basins.
  • Tarp to make shelters and to cover equipment.
  • Garments that protect against rain and that keep the workers dry.
  • Chainsaw protection garments.

Sioen is proud to strive together with Faja Lobi for a hopeful future!