International Aid Projects
During the 1990s, many international aid projects began working with Honduran
Social Forestry System groups. The experiences of the study cooperatives show some of
the advantages and disadvantages of project assistance for cooperatives.
Cooperativa Guadalupe operated without external interference or assistance until
1995 when a German-funded development project called AFOCO (Supporting
Community Forestry) arrived to work in the area near Yuscarán. AFOCO worked with
the cooperative as well as other groups within the communities on project areas such as
forestry, agriculture, infrastructure, and organization. The project negotiated a usufruct
contract with AFE/COHDEFOR for the cooperative forest and developed a management
plan which included logging, resin tapping, reforestation, and fire protection. The plan
was first implemented in 1998. Beginning in 1999, AFOCO financed the construction of
a sawmill so that the cooperative could add value to the logs and generate more jobs in
the community. The cooperative now owns a truck, which they use in the logging
operation. The project ended in 2002 and the cooperative has been experiencing
difficulty obtaining permission to harvest from AFE/COHDEFOR. The sawmill and
logging operations are inactive, and the cooperative may have to sell a property it owns in
Yuscarán in order to pay the debt incurred through construction of the sawmill.
The overall capacity of the cooperative and its leadership has grown with the help
of AFOCO. Many members have received training in basic management and accounting.
The cooperative has expanded into logging and sawmill lumber production in the years
since the management plan has been in effect. When the cooperative first began to work
with the management plan, project personnel handled most of the administration and