Community forest enterprise of Maya forest


Photo: Mark van Benthem

FORESCOM is supplying FSC-certified community-sourced lesser known timber species (LKTS) as part of its effort to harness the international market for supporting the maintenance of forests in Guatemala’s Maya Biosphere Reserve (MBR). The MBR, covering over 2 million ha of forest, is described by the FSC as the ‘largest continuous protected area in Central America’; a ‘last stronghold against deforestation and biodiversity loss’.

FORESCOM is a community enterprise, formed in 2003 by nine smaller community enterprises to effectively manage concessions in the MBR. FORESCOM now comprises eleven such bodies. FSC and ‘Madera Justa’(Fair Wood) certified, they manage a total area of 350,000 ha of forest. Backers of the operation include the FSC itself, USAID, the Rainforest Alliance, and COPADE. A community enterprise at such a large scale is rather unique in the tropical timber domain.

According to the FSC, an average of around 1.5 trees is extracted per hectare every year in concession areas where there are between 200 and 300 timber trees. The targeted areas have cutting cycles of 30 to 40 years. Sustainable felling is also restricted to about 45% of the land, with the rest set aside for conservation or harvesting non-timber forest products, such as xate palm leaves, copal amber, honey, and allspice.

Around 15,000 people live around the concession areas, many working in the forests. Their sale of sustainable forest products supports community educational and health facilities as well as individual livelihoods. The FSC says child malnutrition is lower in these areas than in the surrounding region, school attendance is higher and there is less migration to cities.
“Also highest reported values of [flora and fauna] species that are spotted within the FSC-certified area,” FSC says, adding that these include jaguars, with up to 11.28 individuals per 100 km². According to Glyde Márquez Morales, sales manager at FORESCOM, FSC certification guarantees proper forest management and underpins forest product value, increasing prices for both timber and non-timber product prices in leading international markets, such as the United States and Europe.

Earlier this year, the STTC/F&P newsletter reported that the Rainforest Alliance organised an international trade mission to the Maya forest in Guatemala and Mexico, with participants including ATIBT, Probos, and Precious Woods. They initially held ‘intense and constructive’ talks in Tulum, Mexico with representatives of community forest operations, before spending several days visiting the forest in both countries. Recommendations to come out of the mission were for the establishment of a regional forest and timber association and a marketing strategy around the Wood of Selva Maya brand.

To contact FORESCOM tel: +502 7823-1097, email