By Gian Carlo Delgado Ramos
Procymaf, a project in 1995 that aims to "improve the management of natural resources and conservation by forest communities and ejidos, as well as to increase the economic income generated by the exploitation of forest resources."
In 1992, the new Forestry Law was approved in Mexico in which the responsibility for the administration, conservation, protection and improvement of forests was transferred to the owners and producers, converting the state and federal responsibilities of the government into normative and supervisory guidelines. In this context, in which the nation state was taken out of the game and the owners and producers were left at a disadvantage compared to the large multinationals in the forestry business, the World Bank launched Procymaf, a project in 1995 that aims to object, "to improve the management of natural resources and conservation by forest communities and ejidos, as well as to increase the economic income generated by the exploitation of forest resources." The goal, according to the World Bank, is to "strengthen the capacity of communities and ejidos to manage their forest resources; strengthen the capacity of the private sector to provide forest services to communities and ejidos; design strategies to promote forest and non-forest products. from communal and communal forests, and strengthen federal and state institutions in charge of forest conservation and forestry development in the country. "
The pilot program began in Oaxaca and later extended to Michoacán and Guerrero, and currently, under the figure of Procymaf II, it has been replicated in the states of Chihuahua, Durango, Jalisco and Quinta Roo. Unlike its sister program, also of the World Bank, on "Forest Development" (Prodefor) and that "supports social and private forest producers located in any ecosystem", Procymaf, "only supports communities and forest ejidos that have temperate pine and pine-oak forests, with the exception of the component that supports non-traditional and non-timber timber projects (Semarnat-Oaxaca, 2000: 82-84), although it is already beginning to consider expanding its operational spectrum to tropical forests (BM , Nov 2000: 26).
The core of Procymaf lies not so much in the concern about the conditions of the country's forests and the communities that live there, but in stimulating and facilitating the private forestry business under market schemes with the latter. As is known, Mexico is positioned as the country in the world that has the largest extension of land under communal and ejidal ownership and, given that the bulk of the communities have not disposed of their lands despite the reform to Constitutional Article 27 What ex-president Salinas did to enable the privatization of the ejidos, direct negotiation with the communities is essential. For this reason, Procymaf has focused on exploring the business potentials that can be done between private initiative and ejido communities in both forest and non-forest products (includes fungi, fibers, resins, rubber, gum, orchids, bottled water , etc).
The green "touch" of Procymaf is facilitated by the big business of wood certification. In this way, any project program must make profits for the Bank's preferred certifier: the Rain Forest Alliance and its "SmartWood" certificate. Also joining the business is the Forest Stuwardship Council certifier, which "coincidentally" has its headquarters in the country right in Oaxaca, where Procymaf was born. These certifiers, whose partners include paper mills, furniture manufacturers, etc., have benefited from certifying at least 400 thousand hectares from 1995 to 2002 (according to World Bank data).
The "minority" partners are the NGOs that engage the ejidatarios and forest communities, within a framework of local private actors that negotiate national resources with the "endorsement" of the former and of course with that of domestic government officials. The major partners are the MNCs that benefit from the intensification of the sale of "certified" wood.
However, the NGO enganchadoras, although they are minor partners from the perspective of what is really at stake (the potential business that can be done with the natural resources of ejido-owned lands), in the context of Procymaf such NGOs have been of the most benefited actors, since the bulk of the funds have been destined to pay for "environmental services" for consulting and designing projects for the "sustainable" exploitation of forest and non-forest resources. An evaluation by WB consultants carried out in 2000 indicates that, "? By far the largest direct beneficiaries of both Prodefor and Procymaf have been technical service providers. The studies, management plans and forest management activities are in general proposals made and supervised by technicians working in the private sector. This trend is more pronounced in the case of the Prodefor program, in which the technical service providers are the ones who essentially promote the program. A Semarnap official in Michoacán has stated that: "We all know that Prodefor does not really benefit the ejidos and communities, but that it is the technicians who are receiving economic benefits."
For its part, Procymaf, according to the evaluation of an NGO in Oaxaca (whose name is not specified in the WB report), "has been strengthening only forestry engineers and multinationals in the sector." Procymaf is concentrating its attention on forest management and not social development. Therefore, the program is far from doing anything for the development of the communities, but, as has always been the case, it has favored those who buy standing timber and has ensured the supply of said resource to the industry. "No However, the WB points out, the social aspect in which Procymaf advances with respect to other programs (such as Prodefor) is, "the fact that communities can select the companies and / or individuals to hire for their technical services what it means that they can be selective in dealing with those who understand their needs and wants (sic). "
And the fact is that what Procymaf is basically doing is launching to the market "producers" with a certain dimension of land and a degree of prior organization for the sale of their resources, especially wood as a bulk commodity, "without stimulating participation of the ejidal communities in the entire production chain. " The actors who then retain the bulk of the profits are "others" who certify, process and export it.
The matter does not end there. One of the factors that most attracts the attention of Procymaf is its work to carry out detailed studies of the social, economic, political and cultural characteristics of the communities. Such information is a matter of national security that also, seen from the population, should be assumed as the elaboration of an information base that generally serves to more effectively execute any repression by the Government and its police, military and paramilitary bodies. or to prepare scenarios of confrontations between communities that serve to consolidate selective violent actions or even the use of the army "to control a situation out of control." For example, the Bank seeks to "identify the levels of community organization problems, the types of ownership of forest lands, the experience of the communities in forest management and exploitation, degrees and causes of possible cases of deforestation, as well as the general situation in social, economic and political terms of the forestry sector and the forms of production used. "
Recently and following the indications of the World Bank specified in the Country Assistance Strategy 2002-2006 for Mexico, the Government of the country launched in early 2004, the second phase of Procymaf (II); as scheduled by the World Bank in 2002 (see below). The program that now has an initial financing of 28.9 million dollars aims to expand the "benefits" of Procymaf I, is being promoted by various national bodies related to the management of natural resources such as Semarnat, but particularly by the National Commission for Forestas (Conafor), which was established in April 2000, just before the end of the six-year term.
Expectations cannot be encouraging as programs such as Prodefor and Procymaf are being replicated throughout Latin America with results that are becoming worrying. In Central America, the World Bank and Finnish international cooperation have implemented the Regional Forestry Program (Procafor) from which the projects for each country in the region operate. In Honduras it is implemented by the State Forest Administration (Cohdefor) -similar to Conafor of Mexico- from its Coniferous Management and Use program in about 68% of the national forests. The result, in addition to bringing the national deforestation rate to 0.7% per year, is enlighteningly well synthesized by Congressman Arnulfo Miralda Bueso: "It is a pity that the different central governments continue to appoint loggers or people linked to the exploitation of the forest in the management de la Cohdefor- When Cohedefor appears, a massive number of small industrialists also appear, justifying the too large population of young forest- the only thing that the beneficiaries seek is the installation of palilleras (sawmills) to the right and left, protected by the political recommendations? In the municipality of Campamento, there are more toothpicks than there are houses; the strange thing is that each one of them has a permit from the State of Honduras through Cohedefor. "
Could this be the direction of Conafor and the programs it has adopted such as Prodefor and Procymaf?
* Author of "Biodiversity, Sustainable Development
and Militarization "(Plaza and Valdes / Ceiich-Unam, 2004).
1 - Mexican economist graduated from the National Autonomous University of Mexico with a master's degree in Ecological Economics and Environmental Management from the Autonomous University of Barcelona.
2 - BM, World Bank Appraisal Report. January 21, 1997.
3 - BM, "Mid-term evaluation of the Mexico Community Forestry Project". Latin American and the Caribbean Sector Unit. Washington. November, 2000.
4 - BM, November 2000. Op cit: 5.
5 - BM, November 2000: 8.
6 - Ibid.
7 - Statement by a private technician interviewed by Bank consultants in the mid-term evaluation of the Project. See BM, November 2000. Op cit: 7.
8 - BM, November 2000: 19-20. The underlining is ours.
9 - BM, Country Assistance Strategy. Report No. 23849-ME. April 19, 2002.
10 - Andino, Leonarda. "The Honduran forest is deforested at 0.7% per year, a very high percentage." El Heraldo, Honduras. March 12, 2002.