Bolivia becomes world leader in FSC-certified tropical forest | WWF

Bolivia becomes world leader in FSC-certified tropical forest



Posted on 22 March 2002
WWF today celebrated a remarkable achievement by the Forestry Chamber of Bolivia — certification of one million ha of tropical forest under the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) scheme. Bolivia now has the largest area of certified natural tropical forest in the world, with 520,000 ha located in the Amazon region, one of the most biodiverse areas on earth.

Forest Certification is a system of forest inspection plus a means of tracking timber and paper through a "chain of custody" - following the raw material through to the finished product. This ensures that timber products have come from forests that are well managed in terms of environmental, social, and economic principles and criteria. The FSC is the international organization that coordinates this process and, with support from WWF, has established itself as the international benchmark for forest certification and product labeling.

WWF recognized the contribution of the Forestry Chamber of Bolivia to sustainable forest management as a Gift to the Earth at the launch of an FSC campaign in the Netherlands. Gifts to the Earth provide international recognition and support for significant conservation actions, and have helped achieve and celebrate many of the successes of the WWF Forests for Life Programme, which aims to have 100 million ha of forest certified worldwide by 2005.The FSC-certified one million ha represents 20 per cent of the area under forest concession in Bolivia, and demonstrates that Bolivia's forestry sector is convinced of the value of forest certification.

Support by the Forestry Chamber of Bolivia for forest certification has led to increased dialogue between conservation organizations and industry - a welcome change from the formerly confrontational relationship between these groups - and new joint initiatives aimed at sustainable use of natural resources are now being established."Developing the full potential of the Bolivian forest industry is a challenge we would like to share with investors and consumers committed to environmentally sound, economically viable, and socially beneficial forest management," said Jorge Quiroga R, President of Bolivia.

Timber products from Bolivian, and other, certified forests are available to consumers around the world. In the Netherlands, for example, 6-8% of the timber used displays the FSC verification mark and FSC products are available in some 1,500 DIY chain stores and garden centres. The FSC consumer campaign launched in the Netherlands today - "Save the forest, buy FSC timber" - is an initiative of WWF in collaboration with over 30 businesses, and aims to raise consumer awareness of the need to buy products from well managed forests.

"If the demand for FSC timber increases, businesses will invest further in order to increase the supply, preserving more forests around the globe," said Arnold van Kreveld, Manager Forests at WWF. "The fate of the forests has now fallen into the hands of the consumer.

"For more information:Tori LyallCommunications Officer, WWF Forests for Life ProgrammeE-mail: tlyall@wwfint.org