Is certification associated with better forest management and socioeconomic benefits?: a comparative analysis of three certification schemes applied to Brazil nuts in Western Amazonia

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Nontimber forest product (NTFP) certification has potential to promote sustainable harvest and to bolster rural livelihoods. This research compares environmental and socioeconomic benefits of Brazil nut certification for 231 producers in 17 communities in the trinational border region of Bolivia, Brazil, and Peru during the 2006-2007 harvest. Specific objectives were: (1) to analyze differences in "best management practices" between certified and noncertified producers; (2) to identify socioeconomic benefits associated with certified nuts; and (3) to explore producer perceptions of nut certification. Organic and Fairtrade certification were associated with better postharvest practices and higher prices, while Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certification was related to preharvest planning. Certification was viewed most positively in Bolivia, where producers gleaned financial and social benefits, moderately in Peru, and least positively in Brazil, where benefits were lower or nonexistent. Partnerships with cooperatives, donors, government, and nongovernmental organizations were essential to maximize conservation and development objectives.

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