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Brazilian Associations Get Help on Obtaining Green Seal

Of the 62 forest management units in Brazil that possess what is referred to as the Green Seal – certification in accordance with criteria established by the FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) – only nine are run by community associations.

The Amazonas state secretary of Sustainable Development, Virgí­lio Viana, affirmed that the Amazonas Forest Agency (Afloram) will back group certifications to reduce expenses and help raise the number of certified community associations.

The certification process costs at least US$ 3,210 (7,000 reais) for community enterprises, classified as Small Low Intensity Managed Forests (SLIMFs). This information was furnished by Michal Brink, quality control manager of the Swedish accreditation firm, SGS, which is based in South Africa. Brink is in Manaus for the FSC’s 4th General Assembly, which is taking place in Brazil.

In Brazil, the SGS, two other foreign private companies (Skal from the Netherlands and the FCF from the United States), and a local non-governmental organization (Imaflora) are authorized by the FSC to issue Green Seals.

There are 15 certification agencies throughout the world. The SGS, which is the largest, is responsible for 40% of the planet’s certified forest areas (which come to slightly over 67.1 million hectares).

"Certification offers a great opportunity for social inclusion," declared the president of the FSC’s Board of Directors in Brazil, Rubens Gomes. He represents the Amazon Work Group Network (GTA), which comprises 602 unions, community associations, cooperatives, and non-governmental organizations in the Amazon region.

Gomes is also coordinator of the Amazon School for Making Stringed Instruments (Oela), a non-governmental organization based in Manaus and devoted to the construction of musical instruments and small decorative wood objects, using only certified wood.

The musical instruments crafted by Oela apprentices receive a stewardship chain certificate (a seal warranting the way forest inputs are processed).

"We draft projects and receive funds from international financial sources to cover certification costs. The Green Seal added value to our product," affirmed Antônia Francinéia Souza, an instructor at the school.

There are currently 49 young people between the ages of 14 and 21 learning to make stringed instruments at the school, and another eight who have already concluded the 18-month course and continue to go to the Oela to fabricate their instruments.

"We work filling orders. There are months when we sell three guitars, and there are months when we don’t sell any. On the average, we produce eight instruments each month," the instructor said.

Besides this, according to Viana, the Amazon Environmental Protection Institute (Ipaam) plans to adhere to the opinions of independent certification agencies authorized by the FSC in the process of issuing authorizations for management plans.

This will avert situations such as what happened to Mil and Gethal, two logging companies with Green Seals in the state of Amazonas that were obliged to sign conduct adjustment agreements this year with the Brazilian Institute of Environment and Renewable Natural Resources (IBAMA) in order to receive authorization for their logging activities since they were unable to substantiate the legal status of the lands in which they operate.

Agência Brasil

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