Inicio | Community Assemblies 2024: MLR Forestal and its neighbors shake hands for another year

Community Assemblies 2024: MLR Forestal and its neighbors shake hands for another year

3 June, 2024
La asamblea comunitaria reunida en la Escuela La Esperanza de Bethel II vota para ratificar a sus líderes.
La asamblea comunitaria reunida en la Escuela La Esperanza de Bethel II vota para ratificar a sus líderes.

The classroom today is full. This time there are not only children, but also teenagers, adults, the elderly. Men and women. All in a respectful and attentive silence, interrupted at times by a hand raised to ask a question or to comment on something. It is the community assembly of MLR Forestal. The time of year when the company and its nearby communities come together to listen to each other, clear up doubts, follow up on agreements, ratify leaders. In short: to highlight their good relationship as neighbors.

The scene is repeated as the meetings are held in communities adjacent to the company: San Miguel, Empalme La Bú, Unión La Bú, Bethel II and neighboring sectors. But to get to each of them, the work begins months ago. Mabel Lazo Quino, head of Social Management at MLR Forestal, divides the work into three phases: the first involves the planning of all the logistics and coordination with community leaders for the schedule of dates.

“We always respect the forms of organization and planning of the internal activities of each community, This first phase takes a long time because we must coordinate together with the representatives of the communities the dates to avoid holding the assembly on days that they have already committed. using various communication channels such as targeted meetings, house-to-house visits, banners, written invitations, and leveraging community meetings to reach each family. This process is coordinated with community leaders who help us in this regard,” explains Lazo Quino.

“We have had a friendship that has been a success”

What follows is the second phase: execution. This year, the assemblies were held May 13-17 in schools in each community. With a computer and a data show, the data and images of the donations of school supplies and toys, the employment program, the forest management plan, the community complaints and suggestions, and biodiversity management are projected on the blackboards. Specific information on the three FSC, Rainforest Alliance and Verified Carbon Standard (VCS) certifications is also provided on small laminated cards that are handed out to each assembly attendee.

During the presentation of each leader, people freely raise their hands and ask questions or comment on something. About the state of a road, the process to request firewood, the realization of a community project. As the head of Social Management says, “each place has its dynamics and its needs, which is why the assemblies are held with the purpose of sharing updated information on the company’s work with the neighboring communities and sectors. With the assemblies we generate an open space for people so that they can communicate their disagreements, recommendations and suggestions.”

Santos Molina is a neighbor and producer present at the assembly held in Tadazna and has known the company since it began. “MLR Forestal has been a good neighbor since it started because in the area where I am in Mutiwas, we had a road and they began to help me with the repair, the ditching and they gave me trees to plant. In short, we have had a friendship that has been a success,” he says.

Ratified Leaders: The Link Between Business and Community

An important moment of the assemblies is the ratification of community leaders. These leaders are local actors: housewives, producers, teachers, parents of the school board, whom the populationelects at each assembly to be the liaison with the company for a year. Among them are members of the emergency response brigades and complaints delegates. The election is conducted by a show of hands. The names are mentioned and the participants raise their hands approving that person remain as leader or they propose themselves to others who are consulted to know if they want to be representatives of the community in the collaboration agreement with MLR Forestal.

Professor Joana López Herrera has been working for three years at La Esperanza School in Bethel II. This year she was ratified as a leader of her community. During 2023 he was part of the emergency brigade. “The company trains the brigade and, in addition, supports above all the students, us as teachers and several families with the issue of firewood. Communication is very important, for example, they (the company) warn in advance if they are going to clear the trees to avoid any accident,” says the teacher.

During the three consecutive years of community assemblies, leaders have been ratified and minutes have been made that are printed at the time of the election for each representative to sign. A copy of these minutes remains in the possession of the community. These minutes will also be part of the third phase: a report on the process of assemblies prepared by the Social Management area.

“MLR Forestal has made a huge difference in our lives”

At the Flor de Pino school in Empalme La Bú, the community where the company’s Danlí campus is located, neighbors look at photos of birds and a howler monkey sticking out its tongue. These images are part of the presentation of the Biodiversity Management area. Among the audience are children of the company’s employees who study at the school, some former employees, the pastors of a nearby church, a woman who makes sweets and jams, the owner of a grocery store and also Elizabeth Maldonado Molina, a housewife and mother of six children.

“In this community, before the company, there was less employment and people migrated to other nearby places, or to another country in search of work; When the company came, it generated employment and has also greatly improved the issue of reforestation and has provided help to the community. That has made a lot of difference in our lives and that’s why we always participate in the assemblies and are there to help,” says Elizabeth.

It’s drizzling outside. The MLR Forestal team keeps the laptop, the data show, the printer. There is still a lot of work to be done. There are photos to review, reports to be drawn up and, above all, agreements to be honoured. That is putting into practice the policy of good neighbours.


Pillars of our operation


Impact investment

We promote investments in the Northern Caribbean Coast of Nicaragua that generate quality jobs, stimulate the economy, increase the knowhow of the labor force and recover the area's forestry vocation.


Promoting sustainability

We develop highly productive agroforestry systems for teak plantations, and cocoa plantations in association with teak, neither sacrificing the environment nor the well-being of future generations.


Community development

We practice intercultural social responsibility with the mestizo and indigenous communities neighboring our operation, through investment in the region's social capital and respect for indigenous peoples.