Iwokrama forest receives int’l certification
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Auditors with staffers (Dr. Raquel Thomas photo)
Auditors with staffers (Dr. Raquel Thomas photo)

THE forestry operation currently ongoing in the protected Iwokrama forest in the heart of

The Iwokrama forestry operations practices safety first (Dr. Raquel Thomas photo)
The Iwokrama forestry operations practices safety first (Dr. Raquel Thomas photo)

Guyana has received international certification, giving credence to its work as being sustainable and environmentally friendly.

On Friday last, the Iwokrama International Centre for Rain Forest Conservation and Development announced that it has received certification from the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) for meeting international best practices in forest management, and is the only area in Guyana to receive such certification.

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”.

Iwokrama received similar recognition by the international auditors in 2008, and maintained those credentials throughout the first phase of its timber harvesting operations, Iwokrama noted, adding that the Iwokrama forest is the only area in Guyana to receive such certification.

Last November, the Centre announced that it had teamed up with local company Farfan and Mendes to undertake a second project to test the sustainable use of the forest, essentially that you can use the forest without destroying or losing it.

“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,” the Centre stated.

Iwokrama noted that key to the adherence to FSC guidelines is that forest managers must follow all national rules, laws and guidelines, including the Guyana Forestry Commission’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, the Centre noted.

It was noted that non-compliances are categorized as “observations,” “minor corrective actions,” or “major corrective actions”; and 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,” the Centre stated.

According to Iwokrama, in recent years, many international buyers and consumers have increased demands for proof of forest products being sourced from well-managed forests; and currently, all of the major global markets require some sort of certification for imports.

Towards this end, Iwokrama noted, 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 would 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, Iwokrama stated.

The Centre expressed its gratitude to the German Government for providing support through the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) implemented Caribbean Aqua-Terrestrial Solutions Programme in preparing for Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) Certification.

The Iwokrama 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.

During a previous interview with the Guyana Chronicle, Andrew Mendes, Managing Director of Farfan and Mendes, said his company adheres to the rules governing the forest and follows Iwokrama’s highly selective harvesting programme. As such, only three to four trees are cut in each hectare, and each harvested hectare will not be revisited for 60 years.
The harvesting operation creates no aerial or on-the-ground visual impact, and there are no noticeable gaps in the forest canopy in harvested areas.

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