MLR Forestal and the San Miguel community will continue to work hand in hand
Near the community of San Miguel there is a farm of the same name with a particular history. This eighty-hectare plot of land, owned by MLR Forestal, was razed in November 2020, by hurricanes Eta and Iota. From the small multigrade school in the town, the young teak trees were knocked down and then the men with the machines working to clean up the destruction. and then replant the hectares. In that same school, on April 21, a community assembly was held where the population of San Miguel and MLR Forestal strengthened their relationship of good neighborliness.
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 them about the different operational activities of the company. These include topics such as the international certifications that the company has received.
The community also presents and ratify the local leaders of the different sectors. This last series of assemblies with the communities of Siuna began with the planning and convening of the meetings, which aimed to ratify the leaders by the community as a whole, exchange information and keep open a channel of communication to strengthen the ties of cooperation; previously the main leaders of the community were contacted and the date and place for the meeting were agreed.
“We want the community to grow with us”
Luis López, Manager of Sustainable Development of MLR Forestal, said that the company “is always interested in informing the communities about the processes and steps we are taking because we are a company that is growing and one of our objectives is that the community grows with us and the only way to do it is taking into account their opinion”.
Maribel Rodríguez, a teacher at the San Francisco de Asís school in the community, is one of the leaders of the area and, at the end of the assembly, explained that “the participation was very good, let’s say that 89 percent of the population was present,” she said.
Rodríguez detailed the development of the activity, “they explained the activities of the company, the leaders introduced ourselves, the delegates of the complaint mailbox also did the same”.
Inform the population about the certifications
López also pointed out that one of the key topics in the assemblies are the international certification that the company has. “We want the community to be aware that we are certified, what principles evaluate us, and what is the code of conduct of each certificate; so that they can be involved in the process and, although the certifications have quite technical schemes, we have tried to make a didactic material to make them more understandable”.
MLR Forestal has three international certifications: the Forest Stewardship Council for the management of forest plantations; the Rainforest Alliance for good practices in cocoa production; and the most recent, carbon capture under the VCS (Verified Carbon Standard).
The meetings will continue to continue addressing this issue because “the community relationship mechanism allows us to make focused visits to different sectors: women, young people, leaders and with all of them we will continue to talk about certifications.”
Maribel Rodríguez, who is the only teacher in the multigrade school and has twelve years of teaching in San Miguel, recalled with emotion the support that the inhabitants receive from the company with activities such as delivery of school supplies, toys for children at the end of the year and cooperation in the face of disasters such as hurricanes Eta and Iota. “We thank God that MLR has always been hand in hand with us,” he said.
Agenda items at the meeting with the San Miguel community:
- 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.