For the first time a Brazilian forest reserve has received certification from the Forest Stewardship Council. The certificate recognizes the Reserva Extrativista São Luiz do Remanso, located in the state of Acre, as a multiple use area run by the local association of rubber tappers (Associação dos Seringueiros).
Among the products certified are lumber and tree bark, along with oils and seeds from plants and trees in the reserve. With certification, those products obtain a higher commercial value.
According to Magna Cunha dos Santos, the coordinator of the NGO, Consórcio Amazônia, which operates in partnership with the WWF, certification will strengthen efforts to practice sustainable extraction in the reserve and maintain high quality products for consumers.
The financial management of the reserve is in the hands of the Community Forest Products Group which has pledged to revert 50% of income to producers, and reinvest the other 50% in production equipment, social assistance for producers and training of personnel.
Agricultural settlements in forest reserves offer an alternative for the country’s land problem. This was the position defended ealier this year by Brazil’s Minister of Environment, Marina Silva, who participated in the opening ceremony of the I Certified Products Fair.
“Instead of destroying forests to plant crops or raise livestock, have people practice sustainable forest management,” the Minister said.
According to her, the government is making a great effort to carry out land reform within a legal framework, and her Ministry understands the social needs that must be resolved.
“The environmental movement cannot be cast as if it were at war with agrarian reform,” she remarked. “But social issues can never be resolved to the detriment of the country’s environmental legislation,” she added.
The Minister emphasized that settlement cannot take place randomly. “Conservation units, indigenous areas, and environmental protection areas must receive the State’s legal protection.”
According to her, these lands cannot be used for activities other than those for which they were intended.
During the event, Silva commended the forest managment projects.
“Based on forest certification, we can make it possible to use the forest in a sustainable manner that promotes the preservation and conservation both of the forest and its biodiversity.”
For the Minister, the outstanding quality of this type of forest utilization is the promotion of social inclusion through the generation of jobs.
“Forest managment averts very serious problems in the irregular extraction of timber, such as the use of slave-like labor,” she observed.
Translator: Allen Bennett
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