Auditors study a map during an on-site visit, as part of the FSC certification process.
Auditors study a map during an on-site visit, as part of the FSC certification process.

COSTA RICA NEWS – (Marketwired) A collaborative forest management project has earned certification under the prestigious Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) standard, based on an independent assessment conducted by SCS Global Services (SCS).

The 7,000 hectares of high-elevation tropical forest are maintained by 130 landowners under the leadership of NGO, Fundación para el Desarrollo de la Cordillera Volcánica Central (FUNDECOR).

FUNDECOR’s management ensures that landowners receive tax benefits for forest conservation, government subsidies for protecting crucial ecosystem services, and steady income from timber operations and small-scale farming on designated areas. FUNDECOR has a more than a 20-year record of promoting innovative resource management practices that provide value to forest resources and services across a functional landscape. This “breathing lab” has served as an experiment that has been scaled up, helping Costa Rica double its forest cover from 23% to 53% in a 25-year period.

A large tree in an FSC certified forest under FUNDECOR's support.
A large tree in an FSC certified forest under FUNDECOR’s support.

“We in FUNDECOR strive to achieve a sustainable development model that is socially inclusive,” said Felipe Carazo, Executive Director of FUNDECOR. “Our work approach fosters the development of a business model for a wide array of landowners, assuring that benefit sharing is effectively obtained.”

“FUNDECOR’s pioneering responsible forestry model features a key element for long-term viability — a mechanism for economic development and financial stability for the community,” said Robert J. Hrubes, Executive Vice President at SCS Global Services. “SCS’ assessment included a thorough review of activities in the forest management zones as well as the protected areas,” he explained.

Landowners involved in responsible forest management and conservation can receive payments from the Costa Rican government for maintaining ecosystem services such as carbon sequestration, water purification, erosion control and biodiversity protection. FUNDECOR provides resources and guidance to this group of landowners and also supports a smallholder system run by the Institute of Agrarian Development, where farmers can lease 20-hectare tracts of land and earn income from produce and timber sales.