Newly certified Guyana greenheart heads for UK

The UK sales and distribution division of Dutch STTC member Wijma hopes to deliver the first greenheart to its customers from the newly FSC-certified Iwokrama forest in Guyana early in 2017.

The 3,710 km2 forest, which is in the forest-rich Guiana Shield region and managed by the Iwokrama International Centre for Rainforest Conservation and Development, was audited by the Soil Association, with backing from STTC founder and supporter IDH, the sustainable trade initiative. Following pre-assessment last May, the FSC certificate was awarded on October 14.

Half the forest will be kept as ‘wilderness reserve’ and half ‘sustainable use forest’, with a harvest cycle based on natural regeneration, allowing removal of 10 trees per hectare and stipulating reduced impact logging.

Greenheart is widely used in the UK and across the rest of Europe in marine applications.  But in the former, where it is especially popular for sea-defences, the Environment Agency [EA] issued a procurement ban in 2015 after assessing that proof of sustainable sourcing was inadequate.

“The EA have now removed the outright ban on greenheart after we advised them of the FSC certification awarded to Iwokrama,” said Damian Cole of Wijma UK. “They will accept Category A FSC 100% Greenheart from Iwokrama, but at the same time say that Category B timber from Guyana [which is material under UK rules backed by other forms of sustainable sourcing documentation] does not meet their requirements.”

Wijma UK will be among the first suppliers to put the certified greenheart on the market and the customer for its initial shipment will be the EA itself, which undertakes timber procurement for public projects.  The timber is for sea defences at Dawlish Warren on the south coast.

A range of other species is available from the Iwokrama forest, including purpleheart. Whether the UK EA will specify these too remains to be seen, but it has a programme to evaluate and increase use of lesser known tropical timber species.