Forest communities on the Indonesian island of Java have recently been certified by the Rainforest Alliance, on behalf of the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), for responsibly managing their forest. In addition to rearing livestock and cultivating cloves, cassava, tobacco and corn, members of the KOSTAJASA cooperative also grow mahogany and teak to make a profit. But they take care of their forest resources, allowing their trees to fully regenerate, reforesting damaged areas and using manure instead of chemical fertilisers on their crops. "They realize that, in the long-term, these trees have value not only for wood but also for the services that they provide, such as a cooler environment and better soil structure," says Iwan Permadi, a Rainforest Alliance forest management specialist.
Achieving internationally-recognised accreditation has also given KOSTAJASA access to new clients and markets that are committed to purchasing sustainable wood products. Much of their mahogany is manufactured into furniture that is then sold to Crate&Barrel, a chain of American retail stores. Verification of Legal Origin (VLO), provided by the Rainforest Alliance, assures foreign buyers that the wood comes from an area that can be harvested legally. Since May 2008 VLO is also a legal requirement in order to export timber products into the United States.