Suriname has a total land surface of 163,820 km2, of which 94% is covered with forests. Forest Management principles are based on the Celos Management System which has been developed in Suriname in the sixties until the eighties. Based on the Celos Harvesting System, the annual allowable cut is 25 m3 per ha and the cycle is 25 years. In practice the average annual harvest is below 8 m3 per ha. One of the main reasons for this low figure is the heterogeneity of the forest and the concentration of the harvest on about 20 timber species. To decrease the pressure on these 20 species, it is important to harvest more tree species. This is also encouraged under the umbrella of (certification of) sustainable forest management (SFM). Promotion of lesser known timber species (LKTS) will increase harvest opportunities and improve the business case of SFM. This may also result in a higher contribution to the GDP of Suriname, which would make the forests more valuable to maintain.
The four wood working companies intended to participate in this project have about 400,000 ha FSC-certified concession forests in Suriname. This certification process is supported by IDH through their Guiana Shield Tropical Timber Program - Suriname. Greenheart Ltd. is the biggest company with more than 300,000 ha under full FSC certification. E-Timber/Dennebos Ltd. and Soekhoe & Zonen Ltd. both have about 40,000 ha of FSC certified forests and the Tropical Wood Company (TWC) about 20,000 ha FSC Controlled Wood certified. Besides their logging activities three companies have sawmills and the fourth one has a mill under construction which will be operational in 2016. All mills are able to meet with the international timber quality requirements. With their investments in the FSC label and in sawmilling technology these companies are the frontrunners in the Surinamese wood working industry and are willing to increase their export volume of sawn wood.
In the first phase of the project the availability and the botanical and technical properties of the 10 species from the FSC certified forests in Suriname will be investigated and put together in fact sheets. The inception phase will be completed with identifying and engaging (specialized) wood importers and, in close cooperation with the involved Suriname exporters and the timber (product) importers, select the most promising LKTS to be introduced on the European market.
In the second phase laboratory tests will be conducted if there is a lack of information for the selected LKTS. The fact sheets will then be updated with the information from the literature search and the laboratory tests where needed.
In the last phase of the project initiating pilot projects will start. The Surinamese companies will make the wood available for the pilot projects at an interesting rate (cost price) and articles will be written and published in professional journals. The project will be finalized by incorporating the experiences gathered in this project in the first version of the best practice guideline report, drafted in the first phase.
With this project the use and export of LKTS will be encouraged by developing market intelligence of promising LKTS from the Surinamese forest and initiating pilot projects in which the use of selected LKTS is demonstrated. In addition, activities to encourage mainstreaming of LKTS in general, and the Surinamese species specifically, will be undertaken.
The main objective is to strengthen the sustainable management of Suriname tropical forests by decreasing the pressure on the harvest of the limited set of commercial species currently harvested by increasing the economic value of these forests, and by strengthening the business case of sustainable forest management in Suriname.