The Honduran city of Choluma supports a home-grown industry of small scale carpentry workshops, drawing on the abundant wood resources of northern Honduras. But this timber is often illegally harvested with few concerns for environmental or social safeguards.
With the support of the Fundación COPADE–España (Trade for Development), in 2004 the Honduran Association of Wood Processors and Artisans (APROMAH) was established, comprising a group of 15 artisanal workshops and employing about 90 people in total.
Group FSC chain of custody certification has helped four of these workshops to access new markets, brought better organization and processing techniques, and improved equipment and safety for its members.
Working towards FSC certification has brought a number of benefits, noticed by processors and local authorities alike. Better equipment, increased production efficiency, better organization of the work process and greater technical knowledge have all been gained through the years of joint work between COPADE Honduras and APROMAH. Using the requirements of chain of custody certification as a guide to good business management practice has improved efficiency; the carpenters have a better understanding of safe work practices and professional equipment is available.
Miguel Mejía Castro, President of APROMAH, he has been central to the move towards FSC certification. “In terms of improvements, we can talk about the expansion of the work area, machinery, better processes for wood transformation, a reduction in losses, better administrative control – these are just some of the benefits that a company, of any size, gains through chain of custody certification,” he says.
The members of APROMAH’s FSC group certification scheme sell their products in part through the COPADE Honduras shop, as well as on the local market. A further portion of production is sold through the COPADE-España shop in Madrid, a market that is helped by their double certification – FSC plus Fair Trade.
“In Honduras, few people know the value represented by FSC certified wood, everyone chooses their furniture primarily on the basis of price,” says Miguel Mejía. This can create problems, as the workshops have to pay a 30 per cent higher price for the certified wood that they use. “Nonetheless, buying certified raw material also has indirect benefits: the logs and sawn wood, as well as being legal, arrive already dried, which is easier to work and gives a better finish.”
Photos used in publication:
Artesanos de la madera en Honduras - COPADE (2).jpg. Caption: Craftsman at work (photo: COPADE)
Muebles FSC puro en la tienda de Comercio Justo (2).jpg: Caption: FSC certified furniture in the Comercio Justo shop (photo: COPADE)
Artesanos de la madera en Honduras - COPADE (3).jpg: Woodworking in workshop in Honduras (photo: COPADE)
Artesanos de la madera en Honduras - COPADE (5).jpg: Caption: The Workshop (photo: COPADE)
Tienda de muebles y complementos en San Pedro Sula - COPADE Honduras.jpg: The COPADE shop in San Pedro Sula, Honduras (photo: COPADE)
Alessandro Leonardi ( alessandro.leonardi at copade point org )
Social and Environmental Consultancy, Fundación COPADE