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SYS-CON MEDIA Authors: Elizabeth White, Liz McMillan, Lori MacVittie, Eva Belanyiova, tru welu

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Responsible Forest Management Drives Economic Wellbeing in Costa Rica's Cordillera Central Mountains

Collaborative Multi-Owner Forest Site Independently Assessed by SCS Global Services

SAN JOSE, COSTA RICA -- (Marketwired) -- 06/30/14 -- A collaborative forest management project has earned certification under the prestigious Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) standard, based on an independent assessment conducted by SCS Global Services (SCS). The 7,000 hectares of high-elevation tropical forest are maintained by 130 landowners under the leadership of NGO, Fundación para el Desarrollo de la Cordillera Volcánica Central (FUNDECOR). FUNDECOR's management ensures that landowners receive tax benefits for forest conservation, government subsidies for protecting crucial ecosystem services, and steady income from timber operations and small-scale farming on designated areas.

"FUNDECOR's pioneering responsible forestry model features a key element for long-term viability -- a mechanism for economic development and financial stability for the community," said Robert J. Hrubes, Executive Vice President at SCS Global Services. "SCS' assessment included a thorough review of activities in the forest management zones as well as the protected areas," he explained.

Landowners involved in responsible forest management and conservation can receive payments from the Costa Rican government for maintaining ecosystem services such as carbon sequestration, water purification, erosion control and biodiversity protection. FUNDECOR provides resources and guidance to this group of landowners and also supports a smallholder system run by the Institute of Agrarian Development, where farmers can lease 20-hectare tracts of land and earn income from produce and timber sales.

"We in FUNDECOR strive to achieve a sustainable development model that is socially inclusive," said Felipe Carazo, Executive Director of FUNDECOR. "Our work approach fosters the development of a business model for a wide array of landowners, assuring that benefit sharing is effectively obtained."

The Cordillera Central Mountains is an environmentally sensitive area that has historically been threatened by deforestation, but thanks to FUNDECOR's biological monitoring and stewardship efforts spanning the last 15 years, biodiversity has been maintained. Part of the FSC certified forest includes responsibly managed plantations of teak and oak coral, a plant species known to have antibacterial, antifungal and cancer-fighting properties. The region is home to several plants listed on the IUCN RED List for Endangered species.

SCS Global Services has been providing global leadership in third-party environmental and sustainability certification, auditing, testing, and standards development for nearly three decades. Its programs span a wide cross-section of industries, recognizing achievements in green building, product manufacturing, food and agriculture, forestry, retail, and more. SCS provides accredited services under a wide range of internationally recognized certification programs. Learn more at www.scsglobalservices.com

FUNDECOR has a more than a 20-year record of promoting innovative resource management practices that provide value to forest resources and services across a functional landscape. This "breathing lab" has served as an experiment that has been scaled up, helping Costa Rica double its forest cover from 23% to 53% in a 25-year period. Learn more at http://www.fundecor.org/en

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