Our Forest Services Manager Satnam Manhas is winding up a 5 day trip to Oaxaca, Mexico where he represented Ecotrust Canada’s work as a representative of the Social Chamber at the Forest Stewardship Council’s Global Chamber meeting. This was the first full chamber meeting in 20 years, and there were over 50 people in attendance from 26 countries. The Social Chamber was there to discuss how the issues of worker rights, small and low intensity forest management, and indigenous people can be strengthened in the work of FSC®.

Satnam Reports:

Day 1 ended after 10 full meeting hours with a parade through the cobbled streets of Oaxaca accompanied by a marching band, men on stilts, a large balloon, and 6 dancing women in regalia – all combining to make us feel very welcome in this beautiful place.

Day 2 was even longer and more intense with strong debates about the International Labor Organization (ILO) Declaration, gender equality and Free and Prior Indigenous consent. The speeches from international representatives were all so passionate – nothing like hitting every hot topic in the world! The work on Small Holder Groups (the focus of EC’s work) included some excellent discussion about how better to support smaller communities, indigenous groups, and individuals to becoming FSC® certified – it is definitely a ‘felt need’ around the globe. This second day finished with at least 10 well-supported resolutions that will go to the FSC® General Assembly meeting in Seville in September.

Day 3 was our field day. It started with a 1.5 hour, 2500 meter climb to visit a Zapotec Community that has transformed its forestry (and its community) from timber harvesting to service pulp and paper production, to forest practice that enables small value-added forest products including a sawmill, a drying kiln, and a furniture factory that employees 60 local people, half of them women! Both of their forest and their factory are FSC® certified. It was very impressive indeed.

Satnam publicly offers his deep condolences and those of Ecotrust Canada to the family and friends of Yati Bun, a Founding FSC® International Board Member from Papua New Guinea who died suddenly on the field trip of a massive heart attack. He was impressed with the way the staff and Mexican hosts worked together at such a difficult time.

Ecotrust Canada would like to acknowledge and thank FSC® International for their financial support to make this important trip possible.