Community Forest Certification of Non-timber Forest Products - PDF by pdl20154


									XIII World Forestry Congress                                  Buenos Aires, Argentina, 18 – 23 October 2009

      Community Forest Certification of Non-timber Forest
     Products – According to the perspective of two certified
             communities in the Brazilian Amazon.

         Adriana Maria Imperador 1 , Lucia Helena de Oliveira Wadt, Silvio Crestana

The Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) Certification is a forest management tool that aims to encourage
the sustainable management of forest products considering social, economic and environmental aspects.
In recent years, efforts to promote community certification as a tool for the development of rural
populations focused on Non-Timber Forest Products (NTFP), thus generating benefits and numerous
challenges, including arbitrating certification standards for traditional management practices. Bearing
in mind that the NTFPs represent the main source of income for thousands of families, few scientific
studies have investigated the communities’ perception on this matter. In light of the experience of the
Rubber Tapping Associations Porto Dias and the Residents and Agro -extrativists of Remanso de
Capixaba, certified by FSC- NTFPs, this study evaluated their perception regarding this process in Acre,
Brazilian Amazon, as part of the Kamukaia project, by the Brazilian Corporation for Agricultural
Research (EMBRAPA), to assess the sustainability of NTFPs in the Amazon Forest. The data were
collected by structured semi-open and closed question interviews about the positive and negative aspects
of certification and about gratification, perspective and credibility concerning the process. The se
questions were individually proposed to each representative from the 17 certified families by a single
interviewer, thus ensuring the neutrality and uniformity of the research process. The answers were
tabulated through the proposed models and the most positive aspect mentioned was the increase in
market value of the product (35.3%). Regarding the negative aspects of certification, the problems in
complying with the rules and the marketing and management of the agreements were reported as the
most difficult aspects. Most respondents did not consider any negative aspect as relevant (64.7%). It was
observed that 88.23% of the respondents recommend certification to other non -certified communities and
that the intention to continue the process is unanimous, however they included improvements in capturing
new markets. Concerning credibility, 76.47% of the respondents believe that certification can bring
social benefits, 82.35% economic benefits and 94.12% have confidence in environmental benefits, as for
instance the conservation of the Amazon Forest. The probability of adding value to the product and
contributing towards improving the living standards of the individuals are essential for community
NTFPs certification, however the incompatibility between the tra ditional ways and the existing
certification standards put at risk the continuation of the process.

Keywords: Community Forest Certification, Non -timber Forest Products, FSC, Forest Stewardship
Council, Brazilian Amazon


The Amazon stands out from other forest areas in the planet on account of its abundant biological, ethnic
and cultural diversity; an area that contains indigenous and traditional people whose survival depends on
forest resources. However, this wealth has been disorderly and predatorily exploited, with little or no social
and economic benefit for the local people (Tonini, 2006).

    Corresponding author: Universidade de São Paulo.

XIII World Forestry Congress                                 Buenos Aires, Argentina, 18 – 23 October 2009

  A common strategy that has been used to support the forest people in the conservation of natural resources
and to improve their livelihood is promoting the Community Forest Management in the Amazon (A maral
and Amaral Neto, 2005; Humpries and Kainer, 2006). Many studies have agreed on the important role that
sustainable use has in the conservation of natural resources (Brechin et al., 2002; Nepstad et al., 2002;
Heywood; Iriondo, 2003; Wadt et al., 2008).
  The Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) Certification is a support tool for community forest management
through non-governmental and voluntary mechanisms for the social control of forest products,
independently based on forest operation assessments and practiced in a socially, economically and
environmentally viable way. (WWF, 2002; CTA 2003 ). For a very long time the Wood Forest Certification
was the sole focus of the process, however, this profile has changed in the last decade (Pinto et al., 2008),
with the attempt of including non-timber forest products (NTFPs).
  The most significant values of NTFPs are their use for subsistence and trade in local markets, thus helping
to generate the forest residents’ income, (Shanley, Pierce and Laird, 2005) by reducing the pressure on
individual resources and promoting the use of local biodiversity values (Imazon, 2005).
  The certification of these products offers many benefits, and in return, many challenges. The possibility of
offering the market sustainably extracted forest resources for a select market with the ability of adding value,
hence contributing to improve the living standards of the managers, are essential for maintaining the process
(Shanley, Pierce and Laird, 2005).
  However, NTFPs comprise a group of products difficult to certify due to its diverse nature and social and
ecological complexity (Ritchie et al., 2001) and a number of other factors such as the wide variety of
products, including the complexity of the chain of custody, of tracking and tracing (Jones ; Mclain and
Weigand, 2002; Pierce and Laird, 2003).
  Another difficulty encountered for the Certification of NTFPs has to do with the difficulty of reconciling
the existing certification standards to the traditional practices of community management, which can
compromise the maintenance process. In this context, some interest groups such as associations and research
institutions have discussed the opportunities and challenges to implement manag ement and certification in
the communities. Among these one can mention the adaptation of certification within the Community
Management standards, considering the details and perceptions of the communities, given that they may
provide valuable information to ecologists and managers, hence associating scientific and empirical
knowledge (Imperador; Wadt; Crestana, 2009). However, few studies have directly challenged the
perceptions of certified handlers in Brazil (Hu mpries and Kainer, 2006).
  Aligned with the purpose of filling this gap, the Brazilian Enterprise for Agricultural Research
(EM BRAPA) has developed the project KAMUKAIA, which seeks to probe knowledge and research
demands for the sustainable use of non-timber forest products in the Amazon, developing activities that
contribute to the generation of income for the local community from the sustainable use of forest products
(EM BRAPA, 2004). Th is research project is an integral part of the project in partnership with the University
of São Paulo. The objective is to evaluate Satisfaction, Credibility and Perspectives of two Certified
Associations in the state of Acre in the Western Amazon region, on the FSC Co mmunity Certification,
which includes the NTFPs.

Material and Methods

Study Area
This research focused on two communities located in the state of Acre in the Western Brazilian Amazon
region (Figure 1), which are the Associação Seringueira Porto Dias (ASPD), located in the Projeto
Agroextrativista Porto Dias, and the Associação de Moradores e Agroextrativistas do Remanso de Capixaba
(AMARCA), located in São Luiz do Remanso.
   The areas designated as Extractive Settlement Projects (ESP) [Pro jetos de Assentamento Extrativista
(PAE)] are characterized by the occupation breadth, guided by a respect for diversity environment guideline,
the promotion of rational and sustainable exploitation of natural resources and the use of licensing system as
a tool for environmental management (INCRA, 2009).

XIII World Forestry Congress                                  Buenos Aires, Argentina, 18 – 23 October 2009

                                  State of Acre


                                Figure 1. Location of the state of Acre

  The Projeto Agroextrativista Porto Dias -PAE Porto Dias was created by Decree No 95577 in December
23, 1987. It is the last natural forest area in the municipality of Acrelândia, about 140 km fro m the capital of
the state of Acre, Rio Branco. It has an area of 22,145. 000 ha, where approximately 105 families are
currently living and are registered with INCRA - National Institute of Colonization and Agrarian Reform - a
Federal Authority (CTA, 2008a).
  The main agricultural products cultivated are rice, maize, beans and cassava for subsistence use, with the
possibility of selling the surplus. The cultivation is done in open fields, and opened up by fire, occupying
areas between 0.7 and 3 ha. (CTA, 2008a). They develop extractive activities and their main activities are
Brazil nuts, wood management, subsistence farming and livestock (SMARTWOOD; IMAFLORA, 2005).
  The Community is organized into associations, and the Associação Seringueira Porto Dias (ASPD) was
approved as a certified wood forest in 2002 (CBMF, 2002), and in 2 003 the Association requested the
certification of Copaiba oil through an addendum in the certification scope, and in 2004 it became the first
case of community forest management in Brazil to receive the FSC certification for NTFP. (CTA,2008a ).
  The Projeto Agroextrativista São Luiz do Remanso (PAE São Luiz Remanso) was established by
Ordinance INCRA No. 627 in July 30, 1987 (CTA, 2002) and their lands are granted by collective
settlement regularization, through Real Law Contract of Use, signed by INCRA and the Association of
Residents of PAE Remanso and by the Plan to Use that establishes the community’s organization and
conduct guidelines (CTA, 2008b). It occupies an area of 39,570 hectares, comprising lands of the
municipalities of Capixaba and Rio Branco (SMARTWOOD; IMAFLORA, 2006).
  Close to 85% of its area is covered by native forest with an advanced stage of succession, presenting many
commercial value timber species (CTA, 2008a). The main economic activity developed in the region is the
extraction of forest products, mainly chestnuts. There is also agriculture (rice, beans, coffee, bananas,
manioc flour, etc.) and at a smaller scale, livestock. The hunting of wild animals and fish, as well as the
fruits of the forest, complement the dwellers’ diet (SMARTWOOD; IMAFLORA, 2006).
  Some other activities supplement the residents’ income, such as livestock, usually small herds of cattle,
goat and horses and also the breeding of birds like chickens and ducks. Handicrafts help somewhat with the
family income (CTA, 2002).
  The PAE São Luiz do Remanso is organized into associations, and AMARCA; the Association of
Residents and Agroextrativists Remanso of Capixaba, was created in 1994 with the objective of raising
funds for the development of productive activities and contribute with the agrarian regulation of the settlers
(SMARTWOOD; IMAFLORA, 2006). In 2003, AMARCA requested a full audit of “Forest Certification
and Chain of Custody” for jarina wood, and Copaiba oil products. The following year, the association was
the first group of certified producers by the FSC system, with multiple use community forest management
for timber and non-timber products at the same time (A CRE, 2009).

XIII World Forestry Congress                                       Buenos Aires, Argentina, 18 – 23 October 2009

  One criterion used for the selection of ASPD and AMRCA Associations for the research was the
similarity of the characteristics presented (Table 1).

Table 1. Similarities and differences between ASPD and AMARCA
Source: SMARTWOOD; IMAFLORA, 2005, 2006 adapted by the author in 2009

          Association                    Aspd                                   Am arca

Associates (2008)                        20                                     81
Num. of families certified with active   7                                      10
NTFPs (2008)
Year of certif ication                   2002                                   2004
Type of certific ation                   Mixed                                  Mixed
Year of certif ication of NTFPs          2004                                   2004
PFNM certification                       Copaíba ( Copaífera sp)                Jarina (Phytelephas sp)
                                                                                Copaíba ( Copaífera sp)
Certifier                                Imaflora                               Imaflora
Certification standard used              Manejo Florestal de Terra Firme para   Manejo Florestal de Terra Firme para
                                         Amazônia Brasileira                    Amazônia Brasileira
Type of operation                        Community forest management –          Community forest management –
                                         multiple use                           multiple use
Support institution                      CTA – Centro dos Trabalhadores da      CTA – Centro dos Trabalhadores da
                                         Amazônia                               Amazônia
Current situation (2008/2009)            Active                                 Active
Location                                 Acrelândia (Acre)                      Capixaba (Acre)

  According to the official document of the audits conducted by the NGO IMAFLORA (SMARTWOOD;
IMAFLORA, 2005, SMARTWOOD; IMAFLORA, 2006), the Associations ASPD and AMARCA
presented the multiple use forest management as the main sources of income generation, this includes
exploring Timber and Non-Timber Forest Products, subsistence farming and animal rearing.
  While wood extraction clearly has the highest participation in household incomes, the extraction of
NTFPs has been gaining ground due to its use in food, such as nuts, the production of drugs, such as cobaíba
oil and the manufacture of bio-jewelry using forest seeds.


For the study herein, the Monographic Method was used and that (Gil, 2006), surmises that an in -depth case
study can be considered representative of many others or even of all similar cases, which can be used to
study individuals, institutions, groups or communities. The data were collected through structured
interviews, with semi-open and closed questions (SILVA, 2005). This data collection technique is
appropriate to obtain information about beliefs, feelings, desires, explanations, reasons, attitudes and
opinions about previous situations (SELLTIZ et al., 1967). Among the advantages of such method in this
research study are the possibilities of obtaining data about different aspects of social life and human
behavior, which can be classified and quantified. The interview was conducted from a fixed list of questions
that enable a quantitative analysis, applied to a resident representing each family of managers with c ertified
NTFPs in their field and that were active during 2008 in the Associations ASPD (n=7) and AMARCA
(n=10), with 100% representation in both Associations. A criterion used for selecting the family
representative was awareness of the management of a certified NTFP, and availability and accessibility to
cooperate with the research. The interviews were conducted individually without the presence of another
participant and always conducted by one interviewer, thus increasing the degree of independence and
uniformity of the assessments. There was a prior contact by visiting the associations involved, and also the
attendance of a representative of the support institution in order to disseminate the study, to introduce those
involved in the research and to evaluate the logistics.
  The interview protocol was previously submitted to analysis by experts in the area and applied to a pilot
study to verify its applicability, reproducibility and objectivity (Barros, 1999; Barros; Nahas, 2000; Barros;
Nahas, 2001, Gil, 2006). The application of the interview sought to establish the manager’s trust by
presenting the topic and explain ing its importance and to reduce the task of getting answers through relevant
interventions, thus removing constraints and embarrassments, as suggested by Gunther (2003).

XIII World Forestry Congress                                 Buenos Aires, Argentina, 18 – 23 October 2009

  The interviews focused on perceiving the positive and negative aspects of certification, the intention to
continue the process within the association, the intention to recommend certification to other non -certified
organizations and, lastly, the benefits brought by certification regarding economic, social and environmental

Results and Discussions

With regards to the positive aspects of the FSC Forest Certification, 100% of the ASPD managers and 70%
of the AMARCA managers claim to have received some type of benefit with the implementation of the
certification process. For the ASPD managers, these aspects are related to the improvement of access roads
to the community that improves the transport of people and flow of products, represented by 42.9% of the
answers, the market value increase of the product and more awareness and information about the NTFPs and
its management, both representing 28.6% of the responses. The dwellers of AMARCA believe that the main
positive changes are related to the products’ market value increase, with 40% of the respondents, an increase
in knowledge about the NTFPs its management, 20% of the respondents, and only 10% considered road
improvement as positive. The remaining respondents did not indicate any advantage to date, after the FSC
forest certification.
   In contrast, only two ASPD managers identified the negative aspects with respect to certification, they
claimed it was difficult to compete with the non-certified managers, since certification demands more work,
although the final sales price of the product is the same,; and also excessively rigorous audit, which reflects
the constraint of the associates with fear of losing the certification.
   It is important to underscore that the managers do not want the audits to be less rigid regarding
compliance with the standards, but rather to be less intransigent regarding the traditional forms of
monitoring and controlling NTFP operations, that is, taking into consideration the peculiarities of
management at a community level and the traditional characteristic of families.
   When asked about the intention of recommending certification to other non -certified associations, only
one ASPD interviewee responded that he would not recommend it, arguing tha t one should not commit to
recommending something that requires so much responsibility and is so difficult to follow. Like ASPD,
most of the Certified Managers of AMARCA also would indicate certification to managers of other
associations, and only one interviewee was against recommending it, arguing that it is too much work to
comply with the standards and there is little financial return.
   Although the process to obtain and maintain Certification requires much effort and dedication on the part
of the members, it can be observed that most of the managers of both associations, represented by about
88% of all certificates covered by the survey, would recommend new associations to getting Forest
Co mmunity certification FSC. This attitude is indirectly due to co nflicts between the group of certified and
non-certified managers of the same association of neighboring associations. A joint membership among all
managers could reduce the pressure of the certificates, since the rules would be standardized, equalizing th e
amount of work and time of the associates and leveling the price of the product. Moreover, some certified
management areas suffer a direct influence of the actions taken in non -certified areas, as is the case of water
   There are reports of residents in managed areas, according to FSC standards, that have the water course
contaminated by non-certified upstream dwellers, which encourages the manager to reassess their
conservationist stance. Pesticides and other agricultural inputs cast into the p roperties of the surrounding
managed areas also place limits to the managed properties, contaminating certified areas.
   Considering such aspects, the intention of recommending certification to other associations is not limited
to the fact that this is an opportunity for others to apply the principles adopted for certified management, but
guarantees the ones certified with better conditions to maintain their certification by complying with the
same obligations and enjoying the same rights as the associations in nearby areas.
   The intention of continuing with Certified NTFPs is unanimous among both associations; ASPD and
AMARCA. This illustrates the underlying expectation and confirms the Community Managers’ credibility
regarding Forest Certification as a way to sustainably extract products, hence improving their living
conditions and adding value to their products. This information is reinforced by the interviewees’ responses
concerning the belief that Certification can bring social, environmental and economic b enefits (Figure 2).

XIII World Forestry Congress                                Buenos Aires, Argentina, 18 – 23 October 2009

    Figure 2. Belief in Social, Economic and Environmental Improvements by ASPD and AMARCA

  In all the aspects, credibility regarding improvements received numerous positive responses. The
environmental aspect is the one that most promotes credibility fro m the managers, with only one negative
response by an interviewee of the Association de Porto Dias. However regarding the social aspect, two
AMARCA interviewees not only reported their credibility, but said that the changes are already taking
place, such as road improvements (roads to transport people and products) and improv ements in classrooms,
enabling education for children and adults.
  Regarding the economic aspect, there is also a high rate of positive responses concerning the credibility
about improvements, but it is believed that it will co me about in the long term, ac cording to the
interviewees, while regarding improvements in other aspects, from the procurement process to the
maintenance of FSC forest certification, these are already taking place. The interviewees were asked to point
out the biggest difficulty encountered in the FSC Community Forest Certification (Figure 3) regarding the
  The ASPD managers, with three responses, selected the market integration of PFNMs with aggregated
value as the most difficult one, followed by the lack of technical information about NTFPs and the existing
conflict between certified and non-certified and the poor infrastructure for marketing the product, which
received one response each.

    Figure 3. Difficulties encountered by ASPD Ma nagers regarding NTFP Certification

XIII World Forestry Congress                                  Buenos Aires, Argentina, 18 – 23 October 2009

     Figure 4. The greatest difficulties encountered by AMARCA Managers regarding NTFP

   Given the above, the market issue was identified as the biggest difficulty by both associations; ASPD and
AMARCA. Considering that FSC Forest Certification was created to encourage sustainable forest
management, hence allowing producers to access the market and be able to add value to their products
(Shanley, Pierce and Laird, 2005), this conjecture has not yet been achieved, with regards to Community
Certification that includes the NTFPs of the Associations surveyed.
   According to a study by the Center for Workers of the Amazon (CTA, 2008), innovative initiatives such
as community forest certification with environmentally sustainable practices that promote social inclusion
and equitable and supportive development, have not guaranteed establishing trade relations capable of
increasing the income of the forest dwellers. Among the problems initially identified, the lack of information
on market dynamics gives rise to the absence of mechanisms that can enable these products a supply
regularity; the lack of knowledge about the behavior of prices and demand, hence rendering impossible to
build a defined strategy for product extraction and supply; the distance separating the possible marketing
channels; the asymmetry of information: producer x consumer; unfair competition from deforestation
products or illegal extraction and the lack of a defined marketing strategy for the products in the markets
locally, nationally and internationally.
   The marketing of various certified products has received s upport from co mpanies that seek to integrate the
principles and practices of sustainable development within their business context, combining economic,
social and environmental sustainability in the exploitation of biodiversity potentials, in addition to
effectively working with environmental marketing, a differential for consumer markets such as Europe and
the USA. However, the practice of choosing certified products is still uncommon in countries like Brazil,
where consumers choose the best price and/or products with consolidated brands in the market when it
comes to buying.
   According to a study conducted by the Quorum Institute and published by the NGO A mazônia (2008), it
is estimated that the city of São Paulo, one of the largest Brazilian cities, receiv es 15% (3,750 million) of
everything that is removed from the Amazon. However, the study indicates that 70% of the São Paulo
consumers give up buying certified products if the same but non -certified product has a lower price, even
though 47% of São Paulo consumers are aware these are harmful to the environment, it does not stop them
from consuming such products.
   The intention of the FSC Forest Certification in adding value to the product extracted from the forest,
especially in relation to NTFPs, is vital to the sustainability of the process, because it ensures the generation
of income necessary to the managers, without having the need to extract more products. It is well-known
traditional extraction practices of PFNMs in the studied communities, that to maintain a surplus quantity of
products in the forests ensures their maintenance, thus increasing the likelihood of these resources to be
available in the future. In contrast, the strong market pressure for the increasing demand for NTFP for food,
drugs, cosmetics and other products, including the marketing of raw materials fro m the Amazon forest has
increasingly stimulated the extraction of these products, often carried out with unsustainable practices by a

XIII World Forestry Congress                                Buenos Aires, Argentina, 18 – 23 October 2009

growing number of extrativists. Consequently, the increase in supply tends to lower prices, which in turn
forces the manager to extract more in order to receive the same income, thus an unsustainable extraction in
the long term due to the risk of a resource shortage.
  It is worth highlighting that the limit between sustainable extraction and a non-acceptable level removed
by NTFPs from the forest, trying to guarantee their preservation, is still a matter of discussion among
specialists, once the local and regional peculiarities can extend or limit this limitrophic level.
  According to Shanley, Pierce and Laird (2006), the understanding of ecological fundamentals to establish
sustainable NTFP extraction practices requires much time and research to evaluate characteristics such as
time of life, ability to sprout, housing and regeneration capacity, among other parameters.
  Thus, the lack of information demanded by certified community managers is often not available, even for
technicians and researchers, who also are in need of answers by non-timber studies.
  However, it is a fact that many research studies are underway with communities in the Amazon, another
fact that should be considered by the managers regarding the consequences. While researchers are included
in the associations seeking information and collecting field data, an expectation is created about the results
obtained whether the considerations will be aggregated for improving the forest system as a whole.
However, according to the managers, the results obtained by researchers and research institutions are rare, as
such information is oftentimes restricted to the academic world.
  In addition to the issues raised, particularly regarding the difficulties encountered, the Associação dos
Seringueiros de Porto Dias was questioned about what could be changed to improve conditions for FSC
Co mmunity Certification with regards to NTFPs, requesting a suggestion from each interviewee about what
he considered more relevant. The results reinforce the data herein presented, and the suggestion to facilitate
the inclusion of products with add value in the market was the most often cited suggestion (Figure 5). The
other suggestions were about using more accessible language for the community during the certification
process and implementing an audit system adapted to the needs of the community. One interviewee was
unable to answer this question.

Figure 5. Suggestions for Changes in the Certification Process by ASPD

  Similarly, AMARCA presented its suggestions (Figure 6). Again, the question of market was emphasized
in the responses received, with 60%. In second place are the suggestions for improving roads and the
infrastructure as a whole, with two responses. Lastly, suggestions for using more accessible language for the
community during the certification process and security improvement during the practice of NTFP
extraction received one response each.

XIII World Forestry Congress                                Buenos Aires, Argentina, 18 – 23 October 2009

Figure 6 : Suggestions for Changes in the Certification Process by AMARCA


The extractive communities have a long tradition in community forest management and are a considerable
reservoir of knowledge and practical skills that can contribute to the conservation of the Amazon.
  The participation of the community in the proposals for action become an important mutua l learning tool,
in keeping and reconciling the traditional way of management with forest certification standards, thus
contributing to the maintenance of the process.
  In general, the members are satisfied with the Certification, although conditions such as adding value to
the managed products in order to improve the quality of life of the managers is vital for the maintenance of
the community certification process of the NTFPs.
  The involvement of support institutions, such as the Centro de Trabalhadores da Amazônia (NGO CTA) a
non-governmental organization for the Amazon Workers, in the case of the associations surveyed, is crucial
for the extractivist families to have access to technical information and the necessary training and skills in
order to certify their products.

We would like to thank all the Managers of the rubber tapper associations “Associações dos Seringueiros
Porto Dias” and the Agroextrativists of Remanso Capixaba for their information and availability to
participate in this research work, our thanks to Maria das Graças Carlos da Silva and Nayara Longo Sartor
for their suggestions, to EMBRAPA, CTA, SEF and UNIR for logistical support.

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XIII World Forestry Congress                              Buenos Aires, Argentina, 18 – 23 October 2009

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XIII World Forestry Congress                                Buenos Aires, Argentina, 18 – 23 October 2009

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