Timber certification in Mexico and Central America


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Former CIFOR Board of Trustees member, Ronnie de Camino, and Costa Rican economist Marielos Alfaro of the RNT consulting firm recently completed a comprehensive review of the experience with forest certification in Central America and Mexico.

They found the following:

Between 1993 and 1997, ten companies and organizations in Mexico and Central America were certified as sustainably managing their forests by consultants approved by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC). Seven of them were involved in natural forest management while three had timber plantations.

The total certified area is 173,482 hectares, of which almost half is in the Quintana Roo Forest Pilot Plan in Mexico. Less than 0.3% of forests in Central America and Mexico have been certified, although this accounts for 13.3% of the world´s certified forests.

The cost of becoming certified was between US$0.55 and US$21.00 per hectare. Larger operations have lower per hectare costs. Several companies lowered or avoided the costs of certification by obtaining donor support to become certified or by sharing the expenses of certification with others.

Since all the companies examined had made serious efforts to sustainably manage their forest before requesting certification, none was required to make costly changes in their operations to get certified.

The demand for certified timber is growing. Several companies improved their market positions by selling certified wood. However, no evidence suggests that timber purchasers are willing to pay substantially higher prices for certified timber.

The report provides up-to-date information on the situation regarding certification in each country and in the region as a whole, as well as a proposal for a Central American strategy for overcoming some of the existing constraints.

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Further reading

If you would like to obtain an electronic copy of the report, which is available only in Spanish, please write Ambar Liano.

If you would like to send comments about the topic of this message to the report´s authors, you can write Ronnie de Camino at: mailto:pwrdecam@sol.racsa.co.cr