WWF Statement on Barama Company Ltd's FSC Certification in Guyana

Posted on 16 January 2007
Around 1% of the tropical rainforests worldwide gets regenerated after trees have fallen naturally. Tree falls occur mainly when the rainy season starts. French Guiana.
Tropical rainforest in the Guianas
© WWF / Roger LeGUEN
On 10 January 2007, WWF was informed by Barama Company Ltd that its Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certification in Guyana was suspended by SGS-Qualifor (SGS), an independent FSC-accredited certification body, for failure to comply with certain conditions under the certificate.

WWF is deeply disappointed by Barama's failures to comply with the certification and calls upon the company to do whatever it takes to get back into full compliance with the FSC's rigorous environmental, social and economic standards.

The suspension of Barama's certification by SGS is a good example of what the FSC system was designed to do - detect and specify improvements for responsible forestry practices, of both certified producers as well as the certification bodies that conduct the field audits.

Barama was awarded FSC certification in February 2006 for 570,000 hectares of its forests in west central Guyana by SGS. WWF provided financial and technical support to Barama in the process leading up to its successful certification.

Barama's certification was contingent upon correcting several minor deficiencies, for which SGS issued "corrective action requests" (CARs). These CARs detailed mandatory improvements in Barama's performance in the areas of worker housing, hygiene and safety, road planning and several other issues. These CARs formed the basis of SGS's monitoring audit in November 2006.

During the year since Barama achieved its certification, staff from the WWF Guianas Programme Office visited the company's operations several times under an ongoing monitoring programme. WWF staff also met with Barama officials to discuss the company's adherence to responsible forest management practices mandated by the FSC standards.

During this process, it became increasingly clear to WWF that Barama did not carry out nor give priority and resources to many of the improvements the company had committed. WWF wrote to Barama's CEO in December 2006 expressing concern and urging the company's management to solve these problems immediately. Barama's CEO replied, accepting the deficiencies identified to date, and pledging to return to full compliance with the provisions of its FSC certification.

WWF is prepared to engage immediately with Barama, local forestry experts and SGS auditors to address all the deficiencies discovered during the audit SGS conducted, provided that Barama renew its commitment to certification and deliver the resources necessary to get the job done right. As such, WWF calls upon Barama to:
  • Make a public statement from Barama's CEO indicating the company is serious about attaining and practising responsible forestry according to the rigorous standards of FSC.
  • Commit to a transparent, time-bound action plan to address all the deficiencies as specified by SGS and as required to be compliant with FSC certification.
WWF is also examining its own role in this certification process, to ensure that in the future all WWF's procedures and protocols for working with companies seeking FSC certification, as outlined in its Global Forest & Trade Network (GFTN), are complied with.

WWF's GFTN provides structured and rigourous support to companies in various countries around the world. Under the GFTN, companies work closely with WWF and independent auditors and consultants and under an agreed action plan for achieving forest certification. GFTN guidelines ensure that any company receiving WWF support rigorously prepares itself for, and fully deserves, certification. Companies that fail to live up to their obligations under the GFTN are expelled.

WWF currently does not have a local Forest and Trade Network structure in the Guianas. It is, however, prepared to work with Barama in accordance with GFTN guidelines in the meantime. This would be subject to Barama preparing a suitable time-bound action plan, consistent with GFTN's requirements.

The moist forests of the Guianan Shield under Barama's management are critical in WWF's efforts to preserve the biodiversity of the greater Amazon Basin. Despite these current problems in Guyana, WWF remains committed to working with all stakeholders to ensure responsible stewardship in this critical ecosystem.

For further information:
Dominiek Plouvier
WWF Guianas Regional Representative, Suriname
Tel: +597 42 2357
Email: dplouvier@wwf.sr

Haidy Malone,
WWF Guianas Forest Coordinator
Tel: +597 42 23 57
E-mail: hmalone@wwf.sr