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Iwokrama Forest receives coveted Forest Stewardship Council Certification

Lead Auditor with Iwokrama and partner staffers (Raquel Thomas photo)

Lead Auditor with Iwokrama and partner staffers (Raquel Thomas photo)

The Iwokrama International Centre for Rain Forest Conservation and Development  (IICRCD) has announced that it has received Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) Certification for Forest Management for the Iwokrama Forest.

This followed a main assessment conducted by Soil Association Certification Limited of the United Kingdom during September.

“The Iwokrama Forest is now the only area in Guyana that has been certified for meeting international best practices for Forest Management. Iwokrama received similar recognition by the international auditors in 2008 and maintained these credentials throughout the first phase of its timber harvesting operations,” IICRD said in a statement.

FSC certification is the highest international accolade that Forest Managers can receive and it is testament to the Centre’s application of international social, ecological and environmental best practices in its management of the Iwokrama Forest.

Iwokrama says its forest management procedures and policies were measured against the FSC Standard adapted for Guyana V2.4 (based on ST-FM-001-07) which includes 9 principles, 65 criteria and 236 indicators. Key to the adherence to FSC guidelines is that forest managers must follow all national rules, laws and guidelines including the GFC’s comprehensive Codes of Practice. The assessment team evaluated all elements of Iwokrama’s operations applicable to the standard to determine compliance against national and international benchmarks.

Marking of stump (Raquel Thomas photo)

Marking of stump (Raquel Thomas photo)

Non-compliances are categorized as “observations”, “minor corrective actions” or “major corrective actions”.  During the recent main assessment, Iwokrama received only minor non-compliances and observations. Non-compliances are a normal part of any assessment process, and based on the severity of the non-compliance with the standard, it could prevent the applicant from being certified.

Iwokrama is committed to correcting the areas deemed non-compliant before the annual surveillance visit within the next 12 months.

In recent years many international buyers and consumers have increased demands for proof of forest products being sourced from well-managed forests. Currently, all of the major global markets require some sort of certification for imports. To this end the European Union and the Government of Guyana are also pursuing a Voluntary Partnership Agreement (VPA) on Forest Law Enforcement Governance and Trade (FLEGT) which will allow more access of Guyana’s wood to EU member countries. The FSC brand in particular is highly recognized globally for its independent assessment, and for its opinion on products that have been produced in a more environmentally friendly manner.

The Centre expresses its’ thanks to the German Government for providing support through the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) implemented Caribbean Aqua- Terrestrial Solutions Programme for its support in preparing for Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) Certification. Special gratitude to Dr Horst Vogel of the GIZ programme for his support and for taking a special interest in this project. Our appreciation also goes out to the Guiana Shield Tropical Timber Programme of the Netherlands.

The Centre is also grateful to President Granger and the Government of Guyana for their valuable and timely support to the Centre. Special thanks are extended to the staff of the Centre and our local community partners, the North Rupununi District Development Board (NRDDB) for their unwavering support.

The Iwokrama International Centre (IIC) was established in 1996 under a joint mandate from the Government of Guyana and the Commonwealth Secretariat to manage the Iwokrama forest, a unique reserve of 371,000 hectares of rainforest “in a manner that will lead to lasting ecological, economic and social benefits to the people of Guyana and to the world in general”.

The Centre, guided by an international Board of Trustees is unique, providing a dedicated well managed and researched forest environment. The forest is zoned into a Sustainable Utilization Area (SUA) and a Wilderness Preserve (WP) in which to test the concept of a truly sustainable forest where conservation, environmental balance and economic use can be mutually reinforcing. The IIC collaborates with the Government of Guyana, the Commonwealth and other international partners and donors to develop new approaches and forest management models to enable countries with rainforests to market their ecosystem services whilst carefully managing their resources through innovative and creative conservation practices.
Iwokrama brings together:
 20 local communities (approximately 7,000 people) who are shareholders and participants in the IIC’s sustainable timber, tourism, research operations and forest management activities through complex co-management and benefit sharing arrangements;
 Scientists and researchers engaged in ground breaking research into the impacts of climate change on the forest and measuring the scope and value of its ecosystem services; and
 A portfolio of sustainably managed and certified business models using innovative governance systems which include participation of the private and public sectors and the local communities, earning income from the forest and its natural assets whilst employing international social, environmental and economic best practice, whilst still keeping abreast of the ever changing thinking on funding for environmental projects in the face of climate change and the perennial scarcity of international finance.

This alliance and the Centre’s work programmes are committed to showing how a rain forest can be used for real sustainability, real climate change protection and real community benefit.

The Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) is a global, not-for-profit organization dedicated to the promotion of responsible forest management worldwide. FSC Certification ensures that products come from well managed forests that provide environmental, social and economic benefits.
 Environmentally Appropriate: Protecting and maintaining natural communities and high conservation value forests.

 Socially Beneficial: Respecting the rights of workers, communities and indigenous peoples.  Economically Viable: building markets, adding best value, and creating equitable access to benefits.
The FSC Principles and Criteria set out best practices for forest management.