ATIBT’s expansion in South- and Central America


In a significant development in the growth and geographic spread of ATIBT’s international membership network, it has signed up three South American forest management and timber organizations. They are ATIBT’s first members outside Central Africa and have also become partners in its international Fair&Precious tropical timber marketing and communication campaign.

One of the new members, Mil Madeiras Preciosas, based in Itocoatiara in the Brazilian state of Amazonas, is a subsidiary of the Swiss-based Precious Wood Group. ‘Mil’ was established in 1994 and has a mission to not just succeed as a timber business, but ‘through forest management in the Amazon, improving people’s quality of life through rational, sustainable use of natural resources. The mission statement says: “The group believes in raising awareness and through education, promoting knowledge in society about the value of responsible consumption of forest products”. In 1997, the company became ‘the first indigenous forest management company in Brazil to obtain FSC certification’. It also holds PEFC-accredited Cerflor certification. “We strongly support the intention of ATIBT to not only represent tropical timber from Africa but from other continents too. Thus, it was a logical consequence that Mil joined ATIBT when we heard it wants to expand its activities in Latin America” said Markus Pfannkuch, co-chief executive of Precious Woods.

The second new ATIBT member and F&P partner is Maderacre, which manages 220,000 hectares of natural forest in Tahuamanu, Madre de Dios, Peru, and supplies a range of timber and wood products to international markets. Its forest management has been FSC-certified since 2007 and is part of the Madre de Dios REDD project. Its plant in Iñapari produces decking, flooring, finger-jointed, and other dimensioned goods, and its species range from Cumaru and Jatoba to Ipe and Garapa. In total, it has identified more than 150 species of commercial interest in its concessions.

Maderacre’s commercial manager Jose Canchaya sees joining ATIBT as helping reinforce its message about the value of sustainable forest management. “It is a proven solution to fight against deforestation and climate change, but this is not well disseminated around the globe”, he said. “We think ATIBT can help us to make more people understand the best way to conserve the tropical forest is to use it in a responsible way and create formal jobs. We have been working in the Amazon for 21 years and have many studies and learned lessons that can help to spread the benefits of sustainable forest management. In the environmental services field, by now we have 15 years of experience developing carbon credit projects in a productive forest.” He added that Maderacre’s values also align with those of Fair&Precious. “Fair&Precious is gaining recognition as a label that promotes sustainable forest management beyond conservation. A thriving local community is at the centre of all its efforts. This is something we strongly promote as well and we would like to include the Amazon Rainforest in the brand’s scope and mission.” Further underlining the ATIBT’s focus on strengthening ties with South- and Central America is its engagement with projects to further develop the sustainable forest management of the Selva Maya Forest by indigenous and other community operations in northern Guatemala and the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico.

The third South American ATIBT member is the Association of Wood Exporting Industries of the State of Pará  (AIMEX). This association, founded in 1981, supports the link between public authorities and timber exporting companies. Currently, the association has 23 members. The objectives of AIMEX are fivefold: (1) To encourage the sustainable, rational and balanced exploitation of the forest through the autonomous forest management plan as a basic condition for the sustainability of the forest resource so that the wood-forest sector is a vector of sustainable development of the economy, (2) To associate the conservation of the vegetation cover and the benefits derived from it, with the generation of employment and income, contributing to a standard of living compatible with the natural wealth of the region, (3) To serve AIMEX members involved in the tropical timber trade, maintaining order, structure and ethics in the world market, (4) To promote the wood species of the State of Pará and to defend the interests of the forestry wood sector in public and private policy issues, (5) To provide products that meet the latest standards of sustainability and legality, complying with laws, such as those contained in the FLEGT (Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade) and the European Timber Regulation (EUTR), as well as the standards established in commercial contracts.

Furthermore, the Rainforest Alliance has been involved in initiatives to secure rights of tenure and strengthen the technical capacity and sustainability of forest operations through certification in both countries. They claim to have now attained a level ‘to access more responsible markets and maintain sustainability’. Consequently this June it organised a trade mission ‘to find ways of improving the marketing of timber from Mexico’s certified community forests’. Among the participants were ATIBT and its members Probos and Precious Woods. They held ‘intense and constructive’ talks in Tulum, Mexico with representatives of community forest operations, called Ejidos, before spending several days visiting the Selva Maya forest in Mexico and Guatemala. Among the recommendations from the mission were the establishment of a regional forest and timber association and a marketing strategy around the Wood of Selva Maya.