Guyana: When it comes to green washing WWF is finally setting some limits

Back in the 1990’s when eco-groups finally gained a sense of influnece
against large scale corporate forest clearings many of the eco-groups’
Board of directors decided that their desire for capacity building was
more important in the long run than actually achieving strong
eco-protections for the forest in the short term. In other words they
were all to quick to trade in their new-found influence for a seat at
the timber industry’s table. This fire-sale on fake green-paint that
loggers could protect themselves with was exposed when the
Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) was finally scandalized by the Wall
Street Journal last Spring. So now selling out ain’t what it use to be
and eco-groups like WWF have to be more careful as illustrated below.

–Editor, Forest Policy Research

The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) is no longer working with Barama Company
Limited (BCL) on re-gaining certification from the Forest Stewardship
Council (FSC) and the head of WWF’s local office says that he does not
believe that the forestry company can recapture that distinction.
“There are too many issues and it doesn’t look like that will happen,”
said Dr Patrick Williams, WWF’s country manager. He stated that Barama
does not have the managerial or technical capabilities and the company
does not seem to be making a serious attempt to deal with the issues.
He pointed out that WWF had “disconnected” from Barama a while ago. No
one from the forestry company could be reached for comment on Friday
and this newspaper was told that Chief Executive Officer of the
company, Peter Ho, was out of the country while Forest Planning
Manager Neil Chand had already left the office and would not be
returning for the day. It has been two years since the FSC
certification was suspended by SGS-Qualifor (SGS), an independent
FSC-accredited certification body. Barama had been awarded the
certification in February 2006 for 570,000 hectares of its forests in
west central Guyana by SGS ? only a portion of its vast concession. It
had been suspended on January 2007 following an audit, for failing to
maintain the standards in forest management which it had previously
reached. Asked for an update of the re-certification status on
Thursday, Dr Williams told Stabroek News that the WWF was disappointed
at the way the issue turned out because the organization had put a lot
of resources into assisting the company. “Since Barama we have
reviewed our position in terms of the support we give to private
enterprises,” he stated, adding that the rules were a bit more
stringent now. The WWF had provided financial and technical support to
Barama in the process leading up to its successful certification. He
noted that Barama may well be gradually working on the issues but he
was not aware that much had happened. He pointed out that the company
would have to go through the entire process again, noting that it was
a long one and involved a lot of financial and technical resources.
The WWF country manager said that he did not expect to see the company
regain certification in the foreseeable future. Currently, Iwokrama is
the only local organisation that is FSC certified.

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