By Aaron Humes: The acclaimed Rax Mu Qiche (RMQ) forestry enterprise based in Conejo Creek, Toledo District, has exported 5,085 board feet of rosewood to France through American sustainable timber company Greener Lumber LLC.
A press release from the Sarstoon Temash Institute for Indigenous Management (SATIIM) says this effort can support this and other indigenous buffer communities surrounding the Sarstoon Temash National Park which it co-manages, and drive Belize’s Green Economy – with Indigenous sustainable forestry as the engine.
“Belize’s National Forest Policy specifically names SATIIM’s technical assistance as the model to follow,” said SATIIM Executive Director Maya Ch’oc. “Rax Mu Qiche shows how it’s done.”
In 2021, RMQ shipped two container loads of timber to the U.S. for acoustic guitar makers Taylor Guitar, which have outfitted many popular performers from the late Prince to Taylor Swift; Ziggy Marley’s son, Daniel Bambaata; Dave Matthews; and Caribbean artist Will Gittens. From its proceeds it supplied holiday baskets to every village household among the buffer communities.
In recent years, this Maya community enterprise received the highest ranking (3/3) in the Protected Areas and Link Communities IUCN and ICCA Assessment Scores. Widespread illegal logging, unstandardized logging practices, and poverty are the main drivers of deforestation in Toledo. RMQ is the exception, practicing a combination of data-based and Maya customary forest management.
France in 2019 committed to stopping importing products derived from deforestation by 2030. Last November, the European Commission submitted a proposal to require companies to prove global supply chains do not contribute to deforestation.
Last year a UN review of 250 studies gave scientific proof that Indigenous forest management is the most effective natural solution to slow deforestation and climate change. The report, “Forest Governance by Indigenous and Tribal Peoples,” recommended compensating Indigenous communities for their environmental services.