The Iwokrama International Centre for Rain Forest Conservation and Development (Iwokrama) today 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 UK 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.
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’s 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. 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 His Excellency 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.