Forest certification in the Amazon

Good business news in the Amazon!

Responsible forest management has a great ally: certification. Simply put, certified wood originates from forest concessions where management is responsible and meets internationally recognised principles and criteria.
But while there are many benefits to being certified, getting there is not easy. WWF tries to reduce the barrier.

Undeniably, the end result of certification is worth striving for. Take Bolivia for example. There, the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certification process - the only credible system to ensure environmentally responsible, socially beneficial and economically viable management of forests - has improved labour conditions of forestry workers in terms of level of income, safety, hygiene and health, as well as access to opportunities to strengthen their capacities.

Indirectly, certification has also helped improve relationships between forestry companies and local populations with employment opportunities. Bolivia has certified more than two million hectares of its forests.

Timber products derived from these forests are mainly exported to the United States and United Kingdom, as well as to other countries, including Chile and Indonesia.
 / ©: WWF-Canon / Edward PARKER
The symbol of the FSC is spay-painted onto stacks of processed timber. Brazil
© WWF-Canon / Edward PARKER

What WWF does…

Providing technical assistance
Certification is a long-term endeavour involving strict criteria, and meeting these is by no means easy. WWF helps companies and communities navigate the process.

For example, WWF-Peru and the Association for Integral Development (AIDER) are collaborating to promote certification and ensure the proper implementation of sustainable forest management practices amongst indigenous communities in Ucayali, a state in Peru.

With tens of thousands of hectares already certified in the state of Ucyali for the Shipibo - Conibo indigenous peoples, the emphasis is now to expand and maintain the certified area.

Pushing the process along
WWF-Peru has provided technical assistance during the pre-evaluation and evaluation process of certification for enterprises, which have gone on to successfully pass the evaluation conducted by an independent certifying organization.

In Bolivia, WWF supports the FSC working group by promoting responsible forest management and certification at a national level. It is also implementing a special fund to provide resources for:
  • the training of Bolivian communal forest holders in responsible forest management and certification issues
  • the development and marketing of certified forest products from community-based forestry projects.

Promoting markets for certified wood
It's one thing to certify timber and another to get it to the markets. This is why WWF is also raising awareness of the growing availability of certified wood products.

In Brazil, WWF aims to expand the availability of certified forest products generated through "good management" practices. To achieve that, the organization has contributed to the consolidation of the Association of Certified Forest Producers in the Brazilian Amazon (PFCA - Associação dos Produtores Florestais Certificados na Amazônia Brasileira).

WWF is helping PFCA identify good management projects and assists them to:
  • Obtain information on forest management principles and practices, certification and marketing.
  • Overcome barriers to the adoption of forest management and certification.

A book made of certified wood?

The novel by Portuguese writer and Literature Nobel Prize José Saramago, entitled As Intermitências da Morte (Death Intermitent) is the first book in Brazil to have an FSC seal. In order to seal the book, it was necessary to certify all parts involved, starting with the forest unit, going through the manufacturer to the print house.
 / ©: WWF-Canon / Edward PARKER
An inspector for IMAFLOR and local artisans are shown how the chain of custody operates at the sawmill. Brazil
© WWF-Canon / Edward PARKER
Facilitating responsible timber business
Another problem that has to be dealt with in the certification process is volume. Because certified wood concessions are small, and the demands for timber quantity large, sometimes group actions are necessary.

WWF-Brazil facilitated the first sale of FSC-certified timber from forests managed by communities of rubber-tapers and extractive workers from the state of Acre, by bringing together five small producer companies, associated with a Buyers Group.

In order to make a commercial transaction possible, the producers had to improve their production to meet the buyers' needs - nine tree species only.

One of the best ways to ensure that demand meets supply is to put buyers and sellers together. So WWF-Peru organized a Timber Fair Trade with the objective of promoting market connections between regional concessionaries and potential national and international buyers.

The total amount negotiated for the following six months was estimated to be US$ 2.3 million, which included sales agreements of 38 different timber species.

A major marketing push for certification in Brazil
WWF-Brazil and other partners supported the Certified Brazil Fair held in São Paulo, which brought together producers from FSC-certified forests, GPFA (Association of Certified Amazonian Forest Producers) and GPFC (Acre Group of Communitarian Forest Producers).

Organized by Imaflora (the Institute for Forest and Agriculture Management and Certification), Friends of the Earth (Amigos da Terra), Imazon - Amazon Institute of People and the Environment - and FSC-Brazil, the event attracted about 50 exhibitors, more than 100 international buyers and 4,200 visitors.

The Trade Fair made a mark in the history of FSC, both in Brazil and in the world, It was also the beginning of a series of actions to disseminate the concepts of certification, as well as provide commercial opportunities for certified ventures.

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