MLR Forestal and the Bethel #2 community strengthen their ties
The Bethel #2 community, neighbor of MLR Forestal, turned to the community assembly convened by the company. The call was open to all the inhabitants of the community, receiving a participation of more than seventy people who gathered at the school of the town.
The community assemblies are part of MLR Forestal’s relationship plan with the communities surrounding the plantations, and are held to strengthen the existing good neighborliness with these communities and inform about the different operational activities. These include issues of the different certification schemes of the company. This last series of assemblies began with the planning and convening of the meetings, which aimed to exchange information and keep open a communication channel to strengthen cooperation ties; previously the main leaders of the community were contacted and the date and place for the meeting were agreed.
Mabel Lazo Quino, responsible for Social Management, valued the assembly in Bethel #2 as highly positive because “community members arrived that we had not had in other activities and that was our main objective as well, to be able to reach the largest number of people”.
In addition to Bethel #2, during the second half of April the company held assemblies with the community members of Unión La Bu, Empalme La Bu, San Miguel #1 and inhabitants of the areas of Mutiwas, Tadazna and Waylawas.
Assemblies with active citizen participation
At the meeting in Bethel #2, the Social Management area disclosed the company’s social program that includes the community health and safety plan; the existing employment opportunities; requirements and benefits that MLR has for its workers; also the procedure to send suggestions, complaints and requests was explained. Also, the different international certification schemes that the plantations have, they guarantee a socially friendly, environmentally sustainable and economically viable management in favor of society and specifically of the communities and their environment. To this is added the approach on the response actions carried out against COVID 19 and hurricanes Eta and Iota that hit the area in November 2020, actions that extended throughout 2021.
These assemblies, although they have a specific agenda, in addition to informing people and allow consultations on the impacts that the project may generate, on this occasion emphasis was placed on the new certification of carbon capture under the VCS standard (Certified Carbon Standard, for its acronym in English). After explaining the scope of this scheme, the opinion of the people was heard and a feedback was made to clarify the doubts and / or recommendations.
Ratification of community leaders
Francisco Acuña is the father of four girls and a dynamic man who has become a reference in the community. On the front wall of his house is the company’s complaints and suggestions mailbox and an informative mural explaining its use and other communication channels.
In 2020 Acuña was chosen in a community assembly as the complaints prosecutor, that is, the person who would be in charge of the mailbox and of being the contact with MLR Forestal. Lazo and one more representative of the company open the mailbox every fortnight and, if there are complaints or suggestions deposited in it, actions are taken to solve them.
“Since 2019, communication has been established with people who are recognized by their neighbors as leaders or representatives for their voluntary work within the community; during the plenary assemblies these people were ratified. They will continue communication with MLR and will make arrangements for the benefit of the community. There are leaders who belong to different sectors: health, religion, education, sports and others. The community trusts them,” Lazo said.
At the end of the assembly, children and teenagers from Bethel #2 school performed cultural numbers such as folk dances and declamation of poems. “People were excited about the support the company has provided to the community in recent years,” Acuña said.
Agenda items at the bethel community meeting #2:
- Presentation of the company and status of MLR operations.
- Social management projects, including verification of the community health and safety plan.
- Main results of international certifications. The FSC certification granted by the Forest Stewardship Council since 2013 that certifies forest plantations through compliance with ten principles; that of the Rainforest Alliance that the company has had since 2017 and certifies good practices in cocoa production through evaluation modules that value the environmental, social, administrative area and traceability of the product and, the most recent certification, of carbon capture under the VCS standard (Verified Carbon Standard) that certifies the project makes an adequate approach to the measures that contribute to the mitigation of the effects climate change, support local communities and small farmers, and conserve biodiversity.
- The actions to promote biodiversity that the company carries out on its farms, the MLR study and catalogue of birds was also presented.
- The employment opportunities open to the community, requirements and benefits that people who work for MLR have.
- Ratification of community leaders with whom communities feel represented.