Newsletter Stories

Wednesday, 12 July 2023
Selva Maya Conservation Timber Summit

The forests of the southeastern region of Mexico, Guatemala and Belize make up the Selva Maya, the largest tropical rainforest north of the Amazon. This tropical rainforest is internationally recognized for its forest management, including FSC certification, that is carried out at the community level. Selva Maya is home to vast amounts of biodiversity, carbon storage, and the livelihoods and culture of thousands of local and indigenous communities. It is also the location of some of the world’s most valuable archaeological sites.

One of the proven conservation strategies in this region is Mexico’s ejido system which empowers local communities to maintain the land they have been provided to manage, in turn providing sustainable livelihoods while responsibly managing large areas of forest. The wood products they provide are known as conservation timber - wood that supports long-term forest conservation. It generates financial incentives for well-governed responsible forestry and local stakeholders who act as forest stewards. Conservation timber results in more and better forests compared to business as usual.

Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula ejidos have suffered from a lack of visibility to equitable market pricing for timber and the need to build strong markets for their lesser known timber species. It is critical that this gap be reduced, and the forest community partners are equipped to supply tropical timber markets and collaborate at a regional level to strengthen their technical, business and trading capacities.

On June 15-16, in Playa del Carmen, Mexico, the Rainforest Alliance and Pilot Projects, in partnership with Cities4Forest, and numerous other stakeholders, hosted the Selva Maya Conservation Timber Summit to address these gaps.

By linking the private sector, government agencies and non-governmental organizations with forestry ejidos from Campeche and Quintana Roo states in a mutually beneficial manner, the Summit demonstrated that private sector investment can share the mission and benefit of local conservation. The aim of the Summit was to facilitate and de-risk economic links between ejidos and the private sector by providing tropical timber that will benefit their business models. The outcome will be thousands of hectares of forests conserved through the community businesses.

Andrew Goldberg of the Rainforest Alliance was in attendance and said, “It was exciting to see key stakeholders on the Yucatan Peninsula come together to support sustainable forest management. FSC certification is an important tool for the community forest enterprises in this region. Rainforest Alliance looks forward to building more responsible markets for their forest products.”

With many commonly used tropical hardwoods seeing increased global pressure, the Selva Maya community forests supply many lesser-known hardwood timber species that perform exceptionally well in exterior and architectural applications, furniture, and musical instruments.

Species such as Machiche, Santa Maria, and Pucté are currently being exported from the Selva Maya to the United States and US markets can provide important market support to the forest communities of the Selva Maya. For example, Machiche was used extensively for decking in Oakland California’s Brooklyn Basin Township Commons Park as it stands up well to the waterfront weather and municipal use.

In the words of Fernandito Gutierrez, from Ejido Dziuché in Quintana Roo, Mexico, during the Summit: “The path to preserve our home depends on the alliances that we might be able to achieve today to continue living in our Selva Maya”.

For more information in sourcing and availability of timber products from the Selva Maya, please email info at us.fsc point org. We’d be happy to steer you in the right direction.