The National Forest Policy (2003) assumes a potentially annual sustainable cut of 1.0 - 1.5 million m3 based on a cutting cycle of 25 years and a logging intensity of 10 to 15 m3. The precautious approach suggests an annual allowable cut between 555,000 and 937,000 m3, which still is far greater than the current annual harvest: in 2010 the production was 247,000 m3, in 2011 this was 366,000 m3 and in 2012: 436,000 m3. Economic growth in the forestry sector however, cannot be sustained with continued sought after a limited number of well- known species like Basralocus (Dicorynia guianensis), Kopi (Goupia glabra), Wana (Ocotea rubra) and Gronfolo (Qualea spp., Ruizterania spp.). Continued focus on this limited wood species mix will not only threaten availability but may - sooner or later - also lead to an undesired change in forest composition and reduction of biodiversity. Therefore, there is a need to improve the management of natural forests, aiming at a wider range of trees, including lesser known wood species, to be harvested and brought to markets.
Surinamese forests contain hundreds of tree species. Of these only a small percentage is utilized for timber, at the risk of over-exploitation and thus jeopardizing sound recovery of these forest stands.
As a result, the forest stands have a reduced economic value. Also the forest companies operate in an area where not all concessions are active. A more elevated economic value of the forest stands would favour overcoming difficulties related with the costs involved with sustainable forest management and forest certification.
The harvest of a wider range of different species, including Lesser Known Species (LKS), is an important element of sustainable forest management. The use of LKS, in combination with high value processing, certification and access to high value export markets, can favour sustainable forest management. In recent years, some of the LKS are increasingly used, mainly due to better availability, good workability and appealing appearance resulting in their acceptance on domestic markets. However, the selection of timber species at large still depends on tradition and customers demand.
Till now, limited effort has been made by wood processing companies to convince potential customers of the amenities of different LKS, partly due to lack of knowledge themselves. Hence, this research explored the potential of a limited list of LKS and compiled LKS datasheets to promote their harvest and use. This study recommends the following:
- Reliable data needs to be available on the volume per species that can be marketed when the focus is only on a limited number of LKS. Secondly, the quality needs to be secured by continuing the ongoing process of the introduction of product standards. Where applicable, these standards should also meet international standardization.
- Additional laboratory-testing is needed to make technical information inherent to the nature of ‘lesser known species’ more available.
- The introduction of new species needs to be supported by active promotional measures. Active promotion needs adequate and constant attention and can - initially - best be done at a sector level.
- Wood markets are traditional; the introduction of LKS will take time to materialize.