Grupo Agroindustrial Occidente (GAO) has been dedicated mainly to responsible production and international marketing of natural latex and granulated rubber for more than 60 years. For years, the company was dedicated to acquiring knowledge necessary for the expansion of crops and the development of best management practices. During the 1990s, the company invested in the business to increase the production of plantations, which led shareholders to consider the possibility of building a processing plant in southern Guatemala. In 2010, Econegocios and GAO joined forces in order to create the first Forest Stewardship Council ™ (FSC ™) certificate in natural rubber plantations in the Americas region , issued by the Rainforest Alliance. FSC ™ certification was chosen because of its alignment with company values, promoting environmentally appropriate, socially beneficial and economically viable management of the world's forests. By internalizing the experience of GAO in the rubber industry and the experience of Econegocios with environmental and social innovation, we have created a platform that replicates best management practices to ensure the best environmental and labor conditions, forest management and process quality at a reduced cost and risk to customers. By complying with the principles, criteria and indicators in rubber plantations, chain of custody certification (CoC) was acquired at our associated processing plant, PICA, to produce a transparent and traceable product of the best quality. Currently two farms are actively certified, Palmeras Farm and Bello Horizonte Farm
Promoting Sustainable Development Through Natural Rubber Tree Plantations in Guatemala
Together with Econegocios Occidente, Grupo Agroindustrial Occidente created the first reforestation project registered and verified in the Verified Carbon Standard (VCS) in America in the year 2008, currently validated in the Climate Community and Biodiversity (CCB) sustainability standard with criteria of exceptionality for its benefits to the biodiversity of the area. The project has established natural rubber crops with sustainable management in degraded areas in Guatemala. Sustainable forestry practices have been introduced in the region to ensure continued social and environmental commitment for workers and local communities. The project helps to reduce poverty by creating more than 300 permanent jobs in the forestry department. Additionally the project restores degraded areas by reducing soil erosion, protecting biodiversity and conserving water and natural resources. (Project 514: Promoting Sustainable Development through Natural Rubber Tree Plantations in Guatemala, VCS).
ECO2 Rubber Forests Guatemala
Using the positive experience of "Promoting Sustainable Development Through Natural Rubber Tree Plantations in Guatemala", ECO2 Rubber was validated as the first of its kind, Program of Activities for reforestation of natural rubber, handled and certified under standards of responsible sustainability. The project supports small-scale projects and medium scale in Guatemala to enter the carbon market promoting the sustainable expansion of natural rubber in the region. The project supports long-term social and economic development, increasing permanent jobs in the forest sector, restoring degraded areas, reducing soil erosion, protecting biodiversity and conserving water and natural resources.