Supporting responsible forest management in Panama
“Panama is one of the few remaining countries without natural forests certified by the Forest Stewardship Council," said WWF Central America’s Forestry Director, Mauro Salazar. "It the country doesn't start carrying out forestry management in line with international standards, Panamanians will have a future without forests.”
WWF promotes responsible forest management and trade as one of the best ways to conserve the forests over the long term, helping communities that own the forest to generate tangible economic benefits through careful resource management.
“We base the application of the Forest Management Model in the Darién on the principles and standards of the Forest Stewardship Council, the world’s leading forestry certification organization,” Salazar added.
According to data from the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), the market for FSC-certified products has risen to US$5 billion in 90 countries, with a strong demand for some 10 million cubic meters of tropical wood — an area equivalent to 8,000 soccer fields.
“In Latin America there is a need for the communities to be involved and trained in best forest management practices because once they have the technical knowledge they can seek the certification of their operations and obtain the recognition they need to be able to compete in international markets,” said FSC representative Daniel Arancibia.
“Organizations such as WWF offer tools so that communities like the Emberá-Wounaan of the Darién can implement sustainable management and think seriously about forest certification.”
In a WWF-organized course on directed tree feeling in the community of La Pulida near the Tupiza River, participants are learning techniques from silviculture and extraction experts on how to cause minimal environmental impact when extracting selected trees for harvesting.
The training is being supervised by WWF's Central American office and supported by the Global Forest & Trade Network (GFTN), as well as by ANAM, the Emberá-Wounaan General Congress, the highest political authority in the region, and JDS HardWood Industries, which is in charge of local wood extraction.
“For the first time in this country we are providing technical knowledge on how to cut down a tree without harming the ecosystem," said Hamed Díaz, Vice-President of JDS HardWood Industries. "This helps our industry give value added to the wood.”
WWF Central America has worked with community leaders of the Choco Darién ecoregion in Panama since July 2004, implementing responsible forest management and trade in the eastern regions of Nuevo Belén, Punta Grande, La Pulida, La Esperanza and Barranquillita.
Since it began, this process has tagged and numbered the trees in selected zones, then prepared maps to identify each tree by species using satellite-assisted Geographic Information Systems. The oldest seed-producing trees are not cut down so as to ensure the survivorship of the species.
Wood trade is being conducted with assistance from the Mesoamerican and Caribbean Forest and Trade Network, also known as Jagwood.
• The forest management system that WWF promotes in the Darién has been in practice for some 25 years in the Ejidos forest (communal lands) of Quintana Roo, Mexico, as well as for 11 years in forestry concessions in the Petén, Guatemala, and for four years in the Honduran and Nicaraguan Mosquitia. These initiatives combined exceed 1.5 million hectares certified by the FSC, and ensure the conservation of valuable tropical forest ecosystems while generating income and jobs for the people in rural communities.
The Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) is an international network to promote responsible management of the world’s forests. Through consultative processes, it sets international standards for responsible forest management, as well as accredits independent third party organizations who can certify forest managers and forest product producers to FSC standards. Over the past 10 years, 50 million hectares in more than 60 countries have been certified according to FSC standards while several thousand products are produced using FSC certified wood and carrying the FSC trademark. FSC operates through its network of National Initiatives in more than 34 countries.
For more information:
Cinthya Flores, Communications Officer
WWF Central America,
Sergio Pacheco, Communications Assistant
Global Forest Trade Network (GFTN LAC)
WWF Central America