Analysis of the potential of small-scale enterprises of artisans and sawyers as instruments for sustainable forest management in Puerto Rico

<p>Small-scale forest enterprises have been recognized as a potential instrument for sustainable development. In particular, the production of handicrafts is a major form of cultural expression and a significant source of income in several developing countries. In this study, we characterize the local handicraft sector in Puerto Rico to identify essential elements for fostering small-scale forest enterprises. Artisans and sawyers were home-based microenterprises that harvested, processed, and traded a wide variety of local forest products, including 125 types of wood and several non-wood forest products. Nonetheless, severe competition from cheaper imported crafts, low demand, and high product variability hamper the development of the local handicraft sector. Despite globalization, sawyers and artisans in Puerto Rico, as part of the U.S., have access to the largest markets of tropical woods and home accessories in the world. But, to participate in these markets, they must increase competitiveness. Lack of institutional effectiveness is a major constraint for the success of the artisan development program in Puerto Rico. Therefore, cooperation and linkages between all support organizations, including government agencies, non-governmental organizations, and associations of artisans, need to be enhanced to provide effective technical assistance, marketing, and financial services to artisans.</p>