Certified Wood from Mexico Conquers International Markets

Certified Wood from Mexico Conquers International Markets

With the recent delivery of a container of furniture parts to SitWell, a company that manufactures sofas for IKEA, Pueblo Nuevo of Durango became the first community in Mexico to sell its sustainably produced lumber to a major international furniture company.

According to Juan de Dios Bermúdez, coordinator of the Market Relations and Forestry Production program of the Rainforest Alliance in the state of Durango, "This achievement ensures employment for qualified local labor, increased added value for the wood, a direct deal without unnecessary intermediaries and greater direct economic benefits for the community of Pueblo Nuevo."

The furniture components made by the Pueblo Nuevo community bear the SmartWood/Forest Stewardship Council seal, which identifies products that come from sustainably managed forests. SmartWood certification, a program of the Rainforest Alliance, ensures that timber harvesting is ecologically and silviculturally sound, and socially and economically beneficial to local communities. SmartWood brings foresters, manufacturers, conservationists and consumers together to improve forest management. SmartWood certification addresses the complete forestry process -- certifying wood from the forest floor to the sales floor and all points in between. A total of 208,863 acres (84,560 hectares) of forests owned by the Pueblo Nuevo community are certified by SmartWood/FSC.

The demand for certified products is increasing worldwide. Companies such as IKEA, which sells furniture in 33 countries around the world, aim to offer its customers wood products from sustainably managed forests. IKEA supports FSC certification as part of its long-term wood purchasing strategy. In 2002, the Rainforest Alliance contacted IKEA to promote the sale of products from operations certified by SmartWood. Since then and right through the shipping of the first container, the Rainforest Alliance has provided technical assistance and facilitated the business relationship between the ejido Pueblo Nuevo and IKEA.

"IKEA is fulfilling its commitment to buy products from soundly managed forests, and the Pueblo Nuevo community is demonstrating its capacity to capture part of the international market's growing demand for certified wood," explains Abraham Guillén, head of market development for the Rainforest Alliance's TREES Program (Training, Research, Extension, Education, and Systems of Certification). "The fact that the Pueblo Nuevo community has caught IKEA's attention to begin a mutually beneficial commercial relationship is proof that community forestry operations in Mexico can be competitive globally, as long as the demand for certified products matches their sustainable supply capacities and available resources."

Aarón Parra, secretary of the Pueblo Nuevo ejido, says that the Rainforest Alliance helped him and his colleagues understand that SmartWood certification results in market access that benefits all 1,500 community members.

As part of this initiative, Durango's community forestry operations have received support from a number of organizations working with the Rainforest Alliance, including the International Program of the U.S. Forest Service and the U.S. Agency for International Development, which have stimulated the development of forestry management capacities, product quality, and marketing in Mexico.