UPM Forestal Oriental has been promoting beekeeping production in Uruguay since 1996, when it started a project to manage beehives on forest lands. The goals were clear: to meet the demand of local communities, to take advantage of the eucalyptus flowering period between February and May, and to increase the use of the tree plantations.
Following the commitment of different institutions, an agreement was reached in 2012 with the aim of promoting and valuing beekeeping activities. The agreement was signed by the Honorary Commission for Beekeeping Development, the General Directorate of the Farm, the Beekeepers' Association of Uruguay, eleven territorial institutions and UPM Forestal Oriental. Under this agreement, the “Fund for the Strengthening of Beekeeping” was created. Later, in 2017, the “Good Beekeeping Practices (BPA)” programme – developed and regulated by the Ministry of Livestock, Agriculture and Fisheries, and the National Directorate of the Farm – was implemented through a pilot scheme aimed at auditing the implementation of BPA in a sustainable forest environment, leading to the production of honey of sustainable origin. The objective of this pilot scheme was precisely to differentiate the honey produced under these conditions in order to capitalize on its benefits.
In March 2019, UPM Forestal Oriental obtained an extension of its PEFC (Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification) Certification scope from “Forest Management” to “Forest Management and Beekeeping”. This milestone allowed producers to certify their honey in a pilot scheme for non-timber forest products with the PEFC seal.
Under the impulse of UPM Forestal Oriental and PEFC Uruguay, five individual beekeepers and the Beekeeping Group in the department of Paysandú, northwest of Montevideo, composed of seven other beekeepers, received the first global chain-of-custody certification for beekeeping with PEFC-certified sustainable forest origin in eucalyptus plantations, after participating in a pilot certification scheme for non-timber forest products.
This initiative benefited small beekeepers in their formalization, professionalization, incorporation of production technologies (classification, quality analysis, etc.) and access to training. The main advantage of this certification for beekeepers is the valorization of their production of honey and other products, through the use of the PEFC logo, recognized in more than 70 countries.
Producing honey of sustainable forest origin
Since 1996, beekeepers have had access to the fields of UPM Forestal Oriental, the world's leading company in beekeeping certification with sustainable forest origin.
As owner of the eucalyptus plantations and generator of productive, sustainable and healthy environments, UPM Forestal Oriental is a member of the executive committee of the Fund for the Strengthening of Beekeeping. Through this Fund, beekeepers have access to training programmes, external audits that allow them to further improve their standards and certify the implementation of BPA, as well as financing of various projects related to the activity. Beekeepers also have the opportunity to differentiate their honey production thanks to the pilot scheme for honey of sustainable forest origin.
Commitment to communities
Every year, UPM Forestal Oriental makes an open call for local institutions and beekeepers interested in placing beehives in the company's eucalyptus plantations. In this regard, the existing quota allocation is being carried out in coordination with 11 local institutions.
In 2022, more than 180 beekeepers accessed UPM lands and placed more than 28,000 production units.
The producers come from different communities in the departments of Cerro Largo, Colonia, Durazno, Flores, Florida, Lavalleja, Maldonado, Paysandú, Río Negro, Soriano and Tacuarembó.
This way of working aims to stimulate the development of communities and the strengthening of local institutions that are responsible for managing and assigning the location of the beehives in the forests of UPM Forestal Oriental.
“There are currently ten certified producers in the continuous process of persuasion about the advantages of being able to differentiate and validate the benefits of eucalyptus honey of sustainable origin by means of objective, recorded and auditable measurements”, said Marcelo Ginella, Agribusiness Manager at UPM in Uruguay.
“We are in the middle of the 2023 autumn harvest, after a period of drought that has affected the entire country. We look forward to the beekeeping sector showing once again its courage and resilience in moving towards a promising future using jointly developed tools such as the Good Beekeeping Practices and the Certification Group, which lead to differentiation of the product of sustainable origin”, adds Ginella.