Santa Cruz, Bolivia – In a move to improve living standards and protect forest resources, an indigenous community in Bolivia, with support from WWF and local NGO Apcob, is marketing timber from their communal lands to a buyer committed to sustainable forest management.
Timber company Los Petunos SRL won the bid to buy sustainable harvested forest products from the Zapoco indigenous community in eastern Bolivia.
The Zapoco are the first community in Bolivia to be able to sell their wood through a transparent and public bidding process. In the past, private companies came during the harvesting season and bought their wood at low prices and with no extra benefits.
As part of the agreement with Los Petunos, a portion of the proceeds from the sale of timber sourced from Zapoco lands will now go towards improving community needs, including health and educational services and agriculture production. They will also be used to reinvest in forest management.
The contract is for four years and will become formal through an “Intention of Commercial Alliance with Social Commitment” expected to be signed at the beginning of the 2008. In addition, the wood prices are subject to an annual review once the “Intention of Alliance” community-company is formalized.
“Those who support this initiative show that it is possible to generate sources of income for local communities, while at the same time preserving the forest so that it can continue to provide benefits for future generations,” said José Ledezma, Forest Management Coordinator from WWF Bolivia.
“This is definitely an incentive for this community and we hope such fair deals set an example for other private purchasing companies to follow.”
WWF Bolivia’s forest programme works with indigenous communities in the country to help strengthen local capacities in forest management.