Environmental sustainability is at the core of our business. We are committed to working with a broad range of partners to implement best practices and adopt the highest international standards to ensure that we grow in an environmentally friendly and climate positive way.
We are on track to receiving certification from the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), the gold standard for responsible forest management. We are absolutely committed to achieving this goal for our first harvest in 2021 and believe we are perfectly aligned with the organization’s 10 principles and associated criteria.
History of Region
Due to a lack of alternative economic opportunities, it has become common practice to for local communities to set uncontrolled wildfires – known as “slash and burn” – several times a year to encourage new grass shoots to emerge from the soil, which are easier for cows to eat and digest. This has resulted in widespread environmental degradation including soil erosion, reduced water quality in the rivers, reduced water infiltration into the soils, and negative impacts on biodiversity.
Forest First Colombia is committed to helping improve the biodiversity of the region. Our operations are located in Vichada, which is classified as degraded grassland. The local practice of burning thousands of hectares of savanna at a time for cattle farming has had devastating impacts on local wildlife. More broadly, across the country as a whole, deforestation is posing a massive threat to biodiversity.
Our sustainable forestry business can have a big impact on the global effort to combat climate change. This is something, as a company, we are deeply committed to, and it is why we are working with a wide array of local and international partners to ensure that we follow the highest standards and best practices — to ensure our project is a meaningful part of the solution.
Conserved Areas & Native Species
Forest First Colombia is committed to conserving all indigenous forest areas. These are deemed “protected no-go areas” within Forest First Colombia’s internal plantation management plan. They are made up of riparian forest and palm forests “morichales,” which are linked to sensitive biodiversity. Our Plantation Management Plan calls for the development of only 60% of our total land holdings, with the remaining 40% set aside for conservation and regeneration of grasslands
The very high patterns of rainfall, matched with local burning practices, have resulted in highly leached tropical soils, with very low organic matter, which severely limits their use for agricultural purposes. To make matters worse, the burning, over many decades, has also resulted in a hard crust that causes rainfall to pond on the surface and then run off instead of infiltrating the soil. The runoff increases erosion and high-water flows in all the water courses.
Sustainable Land Management
We understand that the impact such projects can have on water availability can be a concern. Fortunately, that is not an issue in our case. With more than 2,300 mm of rainfall a year, together with practices that respect natural drainage lines and wetlands, our plantation areas will not have a significant impact on water availability.