Green business: indigenous communities and businesspeople increase timber sales and conserve the forest | WWF

Green business: indigenous communities and businesspeople increase timber sales and conserve the forest



Posted on 30 March 2011
Sunset on the Corrientes river, a tributary of the Amazon river, Peru
© Brent Stirton / WWF Perú
Lima. “Scientists are now studying healthy populations of jaguars and pumas in timber harvest areas, which seemed impossible before”, states an optimistic Alfredo Rodriguez, Markets Specialist for WWF Peru. “The promotion of best forestry practices is spreading throughout the Peruvian Amazon, proving that business and conservation can coexist, and even create added value”, he continued.

Peru is the country with the second largest forest area in the Amazon, with more than 70 million hectares of forests. Therefore, it is no surprise that informal extractive activities haVE affected its forests and the peoples that have inhabited them for decades. However, in recent years the reality has been dramatically changing. Indigenous peoples and businesses from all over the Amazon have organized themselves and are now adopting best timber harvest, transportation and processing practices, and strengthening their links with international markets.

“Certification consists of guaranteeing that the different stages of the process of extraction and commercialization of forest resources meet high environmental and social standards. This opens a range of opportunities for conservation and business in the forest”, asserts Rodriguez.

The Shipibo indigenous communities from the Callería river basin in Ucayali were the pioneers in this field, certifying the first 35 000 ha of communal forests some years ago, and reaching the number of 59 000 ha certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) this year, with the help of WWF Netherlands. South of Ucayali, in Madre de Dios, a region known by its enormous biological diversity, the Bélgica indigenous community has also being sustainably managing 53 000 ha of forests with great success.

Now, forestry businesses follow the good example of indigenous peoples, and companies such as the Pumaquiro Catahua and Tahuari concessions in Madre de Dios have certified a total of 75 000 hectares. Similarly, in Loreto, the company “Green Gold Forestry” has obtained the certification of 35 000 ha as well as their sawmill, which will ensure the continuity (or “traceability”) of the process and the transformation of the raw material.

Since early 2008, and with the help of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), WWF Peru has been promoting a comprehensive reform of the national forest sector that is helping curb indiscriminate logging and illegal timber trade, preventing the disappearance of the fragile ecosystems of the Amazon. In this context, WWF has provided assistance in the certification of more than 500 000 ha of forests in indigenous communities and forest concessions. Only in the beginning of this year, the certified area has increased by almost 25% (more than 150 000 ha).

The challenge now is to ensure that certification generates enough incentives to encourage these best harvest practices. With this purpose, WWF Peru, with the support of the Citi Foundation and WWF Switzerland, has been promoting the incorporation of these exemplary forest operators into the Global Forest Trade Network (GFTN), which allows the establishment of control and monitoring processes, but more importantly, the maintenance of the local forest offer, which is closely linked to many markets that demand products of legal origin that come from well-managed forests and fair trade.

Sunset on the Corrientes river, a tributary of the Amazon river, Peru
© Brent Stirton / WWF Perú Enlarge