How Smart Can Wood Be?

Yesterday I met with Javier López, the forestry engineer for Agroforestal, S.A. This company covers the tree plantations at La Cumplida, Ecoforestal/El Aguacate (Morgan’s Rock’s finca), and El Eden; it is not to be confused with Cafetalera Nicafrancia, which manages the coffee (and the planted trees growing in the coffee fields) at La Cumplida, or MAPIINIC S.A., which administers the forests felled by Hurricane Felix in 2007 at a finca called Rosita.

Javier, often known simply as “Prófe,” [PRO-feh] which translates as “Prof” (a nickname for Professor), has worked to get certification from Rainforest Alliance’s forestry auditor SmartWood (and by association the FSC and RA itself)

In 2009 Agroforestal became certified for forest management. To do so the company had to go through the same continuous improvement process that I described a bit in my post about coffee certification. An initial evaluation is made, and subsequent audits over the next 5 years that the certification is valid provide the certifier with evidence of progress and room for improvement. From what I saw of a couple examples, SmartWood seems to emphasize explicit documentation, which makes sense given the nature of the forestry industry: extractive at its most basic, but also focusing on replanting trees as long-term investments.

Some of SmartWood’s requirements are as simple as having a company show that they have read and complied with Nicaragua’s forestry laws and international agreements (I took this as a given, but I guess it doesn’t hurt to be sure). They also observe plantation culls and trims to examine safety equipment and procedure; they inspect all bodies of water on plantation property and require precise documentation of their use; they take note of the state of roads and trails, any processing machinery, and the health/treatment of workers. Since each of the tree plantations is part of a larger property that includes a protected nature reserve, additional scrutiny is added to the certification process.

MAPIINIC S.A. stands for “Maderas Preciosas Indígenas e Industriales  de Nicaragua, Sociedad Anónima,” or “Precious Native and Industrial Woods of Nicaragua, Private Corporation.” As I stated earlier, this company harvests trees at Finca Rosita that were blown down by Hurricane Felix. Instead of only rescuing precious resources from natural disaster, MAPIINIC S.A. (pronounced all together as mah-pee-NIK-sah) also plants trees to replace those felled. Mostly African mahogany is being raised in nurseries at Finca Rosita, but cedars and guapinol are among the other species included (mono-cultures never fail to present problems in the future).

Javier showed me pictures of rows and rows of pre-saplings growing under the shelter of traditional thatch roofs, and more rows (a bit wider, in this case) of fully planted trees doing their job in the forest. From these replanting efforts and careful management, it is clear to see the difference between both sides of the property border. The grass is obviously more cared-for on the MAPIINIC S.A. side.

In early August I’ll be visiting the Ecoforestal tree plantations at the same time as el Prófe and some SmartWood representatives. I’ll keep you guys posted on what comes from this meeting. In the meantime, I’ll be checking out some potential tour packages for Morgan’s Rock in Granada with Pierre (who is first introduced here), so stay tuned.

2 thoughts on “How Smart Can Wood Be?

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