2.4. Rainforest Alliance Mexico/Central America (USAID)

(forestry, coffee and bananas)

The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) has harnessed market forces to improve rural living standards and environmental conditions in the rainforests of Mexico and central America. A 3-year programme coordinated by the Rainforest Alliance is designed to strengthen the competitiveness and to improve the social and environmental impacts of forestry operations and coffee and banana farms there. Its goal is to increase the supply, demand and value of such sustainably produced timber, bananas and coffee from Central America and Mexico. Again, this task is largely approached through certification and the promotion of certified products. NGO partners include FORESCOM/ACOFOP in Guatemala, Nepenthes in Denmark, Pronatura Chiapas in Mexico and SalvaNATURA in El Salvador. Amongst many, commercial partners include Balzac Brothers, Gloria Jeans, Industrias Ecológicas, Kraft Foods, Coop Denmark, Neuman Kaffee Gruppe and Procter & Gamble.

Thinking question 2

Consider the comments below abstracted from Robins and Roberts (1997) here, relating to the demand for sustainable timber creating a market advantage for southern hemisphere producers:

  1. 'When PIQRO Laminated Flooring Company, originally set up by the Mexican government, was sold, its new owners saw exports as the key to their future success..........The company began sourcing wood from Plan Piloto Forestal a nearby community forest project.........and became the first company to export certified tropical timber flooring to the US. International Hardwood Flooring (IHF) negotiated to buy and distribute all PIQRO's export grade products....... to enable it to meet world standards...........to complete the metamorphosis from an unprofitable state-owned company serving the regional floor market to a world-class exporter of high-quality suatainable products'.
  2. 'Forests are being exploited at a wholly unstainable rate in the Solomon Islands as foreign timber companies buy up communal logging rights.............. NGOs in the Solomon Islands and Europe began working together to develop a trade in timber which would offer communities long-term sustainable livelihoods while maintaing forest resource................in Europe where there is a high awareness of the impacts of unsustainable logging.........individual and institutional consumers seek out alternatives.............and, in some cases pay a premium.........Producers receive 40 times more per tree than if they had sold their logging rights....and they are provided with a long-term income'.


  1. Here the key to success here was the PIQRO company gaining market advantage through certification.
  2. Here the key to success was the action of the NGO's drawing on the experience and the market know-how of European organisations. Again, certification aims were also part of the package ie. sustainability accreditation.