Timber production can be seen as a threat to the ecosystems of the Guiana Shield, but also as a possible sustainable commercial activity. Currently, timber harvesting is not considered economically viable, partially because the Guiana Shield forests have low productivity and the actual harvestable commercial timbers are often scarce, while production costs are high. However, the timber value of the forests of the Guiana Shield is increasing as the resources are depleted in other parts of the world. This also means that pressure on the forests of this area is increasing and quick action on conservation must be taken. The demand for certified forest products is increasing in the environmentally sensitive markets of Europe and North America and sustainable timber operations in the Guiana Shield area could focus on these markets.
The Iwokrama pilot site has already started sustainable timber harvesting. A joint venture company was set up involving private sector and local communities, seeking a balance between harvesting timber from the forest in an economically viable way and affecting the natural environment as little as possible.
During phase II of GSI, the results of sustainable timber harvest experiments will be evaluated to find out whether these experiences can be replicated throughout the region.
For more information about the sustainable timber harvesting experiences at the Iwokrama site visit http://www.iwokrama.org/wp/?page-id=26.