FSC and TNPL
TNPL has obtained group Forest Management and Chain of Custody certification for its farm forestry programme, which covers 2,914 hectares in Tamil Nadu and involves many smallholders farmers who would be unable to obtain certification on their own.
Group certification brings many benefits
The farmers are enthusiastic about the positive benefits that FSC group certification has brought. Ganeshan is a farmer who owns just one hectare of land. He was finding it difficult to make ends meet. By partnering with TNPL, he can now expect a decent income at harvest time: “When my plantation is ready for harvest I will get Rs 2900 per tonne.” He expects to harvest 20 tonnes of wood. FSC certification has also made Ganeshan more aware of safe workplace practices, the importance of conserving water bodies and tree and plant species, and avoiding the use of chemicals.
High-value conservation leads to environmental and economic stability
Amjad Ali owns 17 acres of land in Gandharvakottai village. In the past he cultivated food crops on his land but encountered many challenges. He says, “Farming was becoming increasingly difficult as we faced labour and water shortages. I decided to convert my farm into a plantation. I now grow eucalyptus and casuarina and have a sustainable source of income.” He also has a 150 year-old banyan tree on his land. In its shade is a black stone, considered sacred and worshipped by people from as far as 100 km away. Respecting their beliefs, Amjad and his family have kept the stone safe for over three generations. FSC has further ensured the safety of this tree and sacred stone by bringing it under the high-value conservation principle.
Similarly, natural water bodies, pre-existing valuable tree species and other natural resources are preserved on all plantations both in the captive plantations and the farmed forestry lands. This has led to environmental stability through the protection of groundwater and soil and the avoidance of chemical pesticides.
Best practices in conservation create end-to-end benefits
FSC certification has mandated the preservation of existing programmes which promote good nutrition and safe drinking water on plantation lands. Take the small farmstead on the fringes of Alankkadu village for example: while much of the land is taken up by the plantation, the farm has enough land left over for food crops, fruit trees and livestock to ensure the food security of the farmer. Chintamani, the matriarch of the family, points to the paddy, the guava and the lime tree and her goats and cows, proudly explaining that food for her family is assured from the livestock and crops on their farm, while income for other needs comes from the plantation.
While these plantation activities look very far removed from the core activity of TNPL – the manufacturing of paper – they are closely related, since a business cannot be sustainable without taking both the environment and the community into account.
TNPL’s objectives are to source sustainable material and conduct business that is both responsible and accountable to the environment and the social well-being of the people it engages. By strictly adhering to FSC principles, they have achieved these goals.