World Premiere: First FSC certified rattan forest in Laos
WWF and its partners have been piloting FSC certification for rattan forests in four villages in Bolikhamxay province. The total area of 1,200 hectares now become the world’s first FSC certified rattan forest. FSC certified rattan benefits stakeholders along the rattan supply chain. For instant local communities gain an extra 30 per cent of income.
The partners in this EU co-funded project are the National Agriculture and Forestry Research Institute, Department of Forestry, Lao National Chamber of Commerce and Industry, and local communities.
“Today, more and more buyers care about sustainability. Therefore, smart international rattan buyers are requesting FSC certification”, said Mr Bouaphet Bounsourath, WWF Laos’ Sustainable Rattan Project Manager.
WWF and government authorities plan to expand FSC certification of rattan forests to another 24 villages by 2014, with a total area of 20,000 hectares in Bolikhamxay Province. These forests provide a home for wildlife such as Asian elephants, great hornbills, and white-cheeked gibbons. Estimated volume of certified rattan to be harvested in 2012 is 430 tons, 1,162 tons in 2013, and 2,000 tons in 2014.
Rattan is a palm relying on other vegetation to grow in the forest. Currently overharvesting and land conversion is causing a rapid decline of natural rattan.
“We see the importance and benefits of certified resources. Therefore we strongly support and guide the communities to obtain FSC certification. This forest is a model for how other non-timber forest products can become certified. Many rural communities rely to a large extent on these products”, said Mr Khamphay Manivong, Deputy Director of Department of Forestry.