According to the GFC (2017) Guyana has around 18.5 million hectares of forested land, which constitutes to 87.4% of the total land area. The full extent of 16.5 million hectares is primary or otherwise naturally regenerated forest. Guyana’s forests include tropical rainforest, seasonal forests, swamp/marsh forest, montane forest and mangrove forest, and are part of the wider Guyana Shield rainforest eco-region.
79.1% of the forest area is under the management and control of the Government of Guyana; of which 59.5% is State Forest under the remit of the Guyana Forestry Commission and 19.6% State Land under the responsibility of the Lands and Surveys Commission. The remainder are mainly privately owned, titled Amerindian Lands (15.5%) and protected areas (5.4%). Guyana has 5 protected areas which contain significant forest areas, including (1) Kaieteur National Park, (2) Iwokrama, of which approximately 180,000 hectares have been set aside for forest conservation, (3) Kanuku Mountains Protected Area, (4) Konashen, and (5) Shell Beach Protected Area, which includes mangrove forests.
Production and export
According to ITTO (2017) the industry of Guyana produced in 2015 about 549 thousand m3 of primary timber products, which almost entirely originate from national forests. The country's timber exports are primarily based on the export of logs and to a smaller extent on the export of sawnwood. The total export value of primary timber products was around 82.3 million US dollars in 2015.
The timber harvesting is mainly done in the central and northern parts of the country, since a lack of ready access and long distances to the market currently make the commercial harvesting of the forests in the south economically infeasible. There are several different modes of transporting timber and timber products to the main port of export in Georgetown. The two main modes are the waterways and roads. However, the underdevelopment of the road infrastructure in the rural areas has cause timber exporters to rely on less expensive modes of transport including water transport. In a few cases, some operators have the benefits of roads built by mining concessions and Amerindian villages, but this is more the exception. The forest industry of Guyana consists mainly of logging and sawmilling operations. Export of logs is a significant part of the industry’s exports, although the national log export policy aims to stimulate more value-added activities in Guyana; e.g. by charging a progressively increasing rate of export commission (currently max. 20%) on targeted species that have been reflecting high volumes of export in log form. A full ban on log exports has recently been proposed for a number of species (Purpleheart, Locust, Crabwood, Red Cedar, Washiba, Letterwood and Snakewood) in the National Log Export Policy for the period 2016 to 2020. As can be observed from the graph below Guyanese timber is exported to many regions of the world, although logs are mainly exported to China and India while sawn wood and other processed products are exported to a much wider range of destinations.
The forests of Guyana contain more than 1000 tree species; according to the Guyana Forestry Commission the main species exported over 2014-15 were:
- Wamara (Swartzia leiocalycina) - logs
- Purpleheart (Amarante, Purperhart) (Peltogyne venosa) - logs and lumber
- Mora (Mora excelsa) – logs and lumber
- Greenheart (Demerara greenheart) (Chlorocardium rodiei) – logs and lumber
- Kabukalli (Cupiúba, Kopi) (Goupia glabra) – logs and lumber
- Darina (Angelim, Makka Kabbes) (Hymenolobium flavum) – logs and lumber
- Wallaba (Eperua falcata & E. grandiflora)– poles and posts
In addition to these species there are other species which are of interest in the international market, such as:
- Bulletwood (Massaranduba, bolletrie) (Manilkara bidentata), although harvesting of this species is allowed by special permission only.
- Locust, (Jatoba, rode lokus) (Hymenaea courbaril), although for the export of this species special regulations apply.
- Wamaradan (Basralokus, Angelique) (Dicorynia guianensis)
Sources of information
- FAO Global Forest Resources Assessment 2015. The categorization of lands used by the Guyana Forestry Commission (2015) differs slightly from the categorization as used by the FAO.
- Fordaq - timber trade network
- Guyana Forestry Commission (2015) Forest Sector Information Report – Annual Review 2014
- Guyana Forestry Commission (2016) Forest Sector Information Report – Annual Review 2015
- Guyana Forestry Commission (2016) Proposed National Log Export Policy (2016 - 2020)
- Guyana Forestry Commission (2017) Forest Sector Information Report – Annual Review 2016
- Guyana Forestry Commission (2017) Guyana REDD+ Monitoring Reporting & Verification System (MRVS), Year 6 Interim Measures Report, 1 January 2015 to 31 December 2016, Version 1- 15th December 2017
- ITC (International Trade Centre) calculations based on UN Comtrade statistics
- ITTO (2011) Status of tropical forest management 2011 – Guyana
- ITTO (2013) Factors affecting competitiveness of tropical timber in Guyana.
- ITTO (2017) Biennial review and assessment of the world timber situation.
- World Port Source - Map of ports in Guyana with container liner service.
The Guyana Forestry Commission (GFC) is the key government agency which is responsible for the issuing of forest concession agreements, cutting permits, transportation documents, sawmill, timber dealers and lumber yard licenses, timber export certificates and for monitoring of forest legality and supply chains.
Social, fiscal and environmental aspects of forest governments are under the mandate of the Ministry of Social Protection, The National Insurance Board and the Ministry of Amerindian Affairs; the Revenue Authority and the Environmental Protection Agency respectively.
The Guyana Forestry Commission (GFC) holds the management rights for all State Forest and issues permits to large and small concessionaires for the commercial harvesting of timber. The large concession harvesting permits are:
- Timber Sales Agreement (TSA), which is issued for concessions of more than 24,291 hectares and allocated for 20 years; and
- Wood Cutting Lease (WCL), issued for concessions between 8,094 and 24,291 hectares and allocated for 3 to 10 years.
These permits apply to larger concessions and their requirements are different from those of smaller concessions. The applicants for harvesting permits of new larger concessions need to possess a precursor State Forest Exploratory Permit (SFEP), which is issued for undertaking exploratory operations such as inventories, environmental and social impact assessments and the preparation of management plans. These SFEP’s do not include full commercial harvesting rights, although limited harvesting is allowed. A TSA or WCL permit is issued after approval of a specified set of documents, including a management plan and for an initial permit also a valid SFEP.
State Forest Permissions (SFP) are issued to small concessionaires. These permits are valid for two (2) years and issued for areas less than 8,094 hectares. These permissions are issued to small-scale operators and increasingly to community-based associations.
- Royalty payable per cubic metre extracted; different rates apply to four species classes
- Annual area fee
- Export commission on log exports; different rates for two schedules
- Fees apply for various permits and applications
Holders of a TSA or WCL concession agreement need to prepare a 3-5 year Forest Management Plan (FMP) and Annual Operational Plan (AOP), which are reviewed by the GFC prior to harvesting. For the preparation of the 5-yr FMP a ‘management-level inventory’ (<1% sampling intensity) is required. For the preparation of the AOP TSA and WCL holders are required to submit 100% pre-harvest inventory information (stock maps and data sheets) for all blocks that are proposed to be harvested in the operational year along with the Annual Operational Plan. A 2.5% verification exercise of the Inventory Information is carried out by the GFC before final approval is granted. An approval letter to commence harvesting activities is prepared and sent to the company based on the recommendations of the verification exercise. Block approval letters are prepared after taking into consideration the Maximum Allowable Cut (MAC), which is the lower volume figure of the Annual Allowable Cut (AAC) and the Inventoried Volume, specifying the blocks that may be harvested and the respective MAC for each individual block. The AAC is set at a maximum of 20 m³/ha for a 60 year cutting cycle or prorated as e.g. 8.33 m³/ha for a 25-year cycle. Block approval letters are forwarded to the relevant officers within the GFC to effect monitoring and for filing/reference purposes. Log tracking tag quota is also determined based on the MAC. An operator’s annual quota is calculated based on the MAC and equated to the number of standing trees which will yield the volume and the number of trees computed. This will indicate the number of tags to be issued. Each operator is recognized by a unique sequence of numbers assigned to that operation, while tags are issued in sequences to be used in particular blocks only in case of large concessions. The GFC defines log quota for small concessionaires depending on the size of their concession and previous harvesting records. No pre-harvest inventory or tagging of stumps is required for Amerindian Villages and private lands.
All timber must be tagged, including logs, lumber, piles, poles and posts. In the case where logs are converted in-forest (using a chainsaw or mobile mill) the removal and transport of lumber must be accompanied by a Removal Permit and tags are attached to batches of lumber originating from the source logs.
For forest harvesting and transport, monitoring is done at station level, at concession level and supplemented by random monitoring by the GFC’s Internal Audit Unit and supervisory staff. At all active large concessions, resident forest officers perform the function of ensuring that all monitoring and legality procedures are strictly complied with. In instances of breach, an investigation is conducted and, based on the outcome; action is instituted according to GFC’s standard procedures for illegal actions and procedural breaches.
Requirements that apply to the employer, for the benefit of workers; e.g. workers’ registration, contracts, Health & Safety requirements, PPE’s, training requirements, insurance, union are technically under the mandate of the Ministry of Social Protection and similar Ministries/Government Agencies. However, social requirements are treated in the Codes of Practice and are effectively monitored by GFC officers due to the lack of presence in the interior of the other Government Agencies/Ministries.
According to the Amerindian Act 2006, Amerindian people have traditional subsistence right or privilege in respect of any State Forest, which is owned legally or by custom by an Amerindian Village or Amerindian Community and which is exercised sustainably in accordance with the spiritual relationship which the Amerindian Village or Amerindian Community has with the land.
If the GFC intends to issue a permit, concession, licence, timber sales agreement or other permission in respect of any State forests which are contiguous with Village lands, the GFC shall first consider the impact on the Village.
In order to remove timber products from a large or small concession a Removal Permit with associated production register is required. Amerindian Villages that are desirous to conduct commercial harvesting within the boundaries of the Titled Amerindian Village Land use a Private Property Removal Declaration to transport timber products instead of as Removal Permit. Secondary transport documents include: a) Transhipment Permit which is used to transport timber products from State forests for which royalties have been paid and for which the Removal Permit has been surrendered to the GFC; b) Trip Sheet which is used to transport forest products that may otherwise require several Removal Permits before the produce is declared on a Removal Permit for the payment of royalty; Trip Sheets must be issued in connection with a Removal Permit; c) Bill of Sale which may be used to transport timber products once royalties have been paid and the Removal Permit has been surrendered to the GFC; d) Clearance Pass which is a document used for the release/removal of confiscated forest produce/items once non-compliances regarding confiscated timber products have been resolved in order for the timber product to re-enter the supply chain.
All operational sawmilling, wood processing operations, lumberyards and timber dealers must be licensed annually by the GFC and hence will have to conform to the requirements for forest legality as established by the GFC. Relevant information on all timber products entering a sawmill or lumberyard must be recorded on a Sawmill/Lumberyard record of produce received/purchased/supply register which must record the transport document type (e.g. Removal Permit, Private Property Declaration, Bill of Sale) and number, source, species, type of produce and volumes. Relevant information on all processed timber products must be recorded on a Return of lumber sawn and lumber produced Form or Return of log sawn and log produced Form. Sales of sawn lumber must be recorded on a Wood product sales Form and a monthly declaration must be made. A Bill of Sale must be issued to any buyer and the invoice number recorded on the Wood product sales Form.
Exporters seeking to export forest produce from Guyana must first apply to export forest products via completion of an “Application for Export of Forest Produce” form and a “Timber Marketing Certificate” (TMC). Timber products to be exported must be graded by a GFC licenced independent grader. Once the GFC is in receipt of the TMC application, and is informed that the produce has been graded, a GFC Grading Inspector does a 100 % verification of the grades assigned by the independent grader. Once the GFC Grading Inspector is satisfied that the forest produce meets the necessary quality standards, the TMC is then issued to the exporter, who then can apply for an Export Certificate (EC). This EC is prepared by the Exporter and is for products already inspected and certified by the GFC. All exporters or their agents seeking to export goods must fill and submit a Customs Declaration (Form C72), which is to be stamped by the GFC. Once the Exporter has paid an export commission, if payable, to the GFC, the Exporter forwards all authorised documents (Customs declaration, Export certificate and Commercial invoice) to the Customs, Excise and Trade Operation (CETO) unit of the Revenue Authority
A CITES Certificate of Origin is required for the export logs, lumber or veneer sheets of Red (Spanish) Cedar (Cedrela odorata), which is listed on CITES Appendix III. Any person who proposes to import, export, re-export or introduce any CITES listed animal or plant or specimen from the sea shall before commencing any action related thereto, apply to the CITES Management Authority, the Wildlife Conservation and Management Commission, for a permit or certificate.
The below listed key documents are based on the applicable legislation and are considered to play a key role in demonstrating legal origin. The full list of applicable legislation is accessible here.
Processing and Trade
Bans and quota
There are no specific bans or limitations on the export of timber from Guyana, although Guyana implemented a National Log Export Policy with the aim of dissuading the export of logs while encouraging added value manufacturing of forest products. The policy stipulates a differentiated scheme of export commission on log exports, based on species type (royalty class). It ensures that, except in special cases, only concessionaires will be allowed to export logs which must originate from concessions allocated to them. Progressively increasing rates of export commission (currently max. 20%) is in effect. A full ban on log exports has recently been proposed for a number of species (Purpleheart, Locust, Crabwood, Red Cedar, Washiba, Letterwood and Snakewood) in the National Log Export Policy for the period 2016 to 2020.
Cites and protected species
There are two tree species from Guyana listed on CITES Appendix II:
- Brazilian rosewood (Aniba rosaeodora). The CITES listing applies to logs, sawn wood, veneer sheets, plywood and extracts. Finished products containing such extracts as ingredients, including fragrances, are not considered to be covered by this annotation.
- Bigleaf mahogany (Swietenia macrophylla). The CITES listing applies to logs, sawn wood, veneer sheets and plywood.
There is one tree species from Guyana listed in CITES Appendix III:
- Red cedar (tradename: Spanish cedar) (Cedrela odorata). Exports of logs, lumber and veneer sheets of this species require a CITES Certificate of Origin.
Some special regulations apply for the following species:
- Bulletwood, Massaranduba (Manilkara bidentata) is protected under the Forest Act for its value to Indigenous communities though permission is granted by the GFC on a case by case basis.
- Crabwood (Carapa spp.) and Locust (Hymenaea spp.) are covered by special conditions for export either in log or rough sawn form as a means to give the local value-adding sector the first option to buy. In order to export in log or rough sawn form you need to advertise through the Government and if no local interest is shown at the price offered then exports are permitted at the price offered.
National action on timber legality
Guyana is negotiating a VPA with the EU. Negotiations started in December 2012 and are still in progress. Guyana introduced already a wood‐tracking system in 2000 to verify the origin of raw material and to control the level of harvesting within State Forests providing detectable evidence on the legitimacy, geographical location, and magnitude of forest operations.
The Roadmap for the preparations and negotiations of the Guyana-EU FLEGT Voluntary Partnership Agreement (VPA) is grouped into four phases: in-country consensus building bilateral negotiations, ratification and implementation. Currently Guyana is in Phase 2. The fourth bilateral Guyana-EU negotiation session was held in March 2016 and a Field Test of the Guyana draft VPA Annexes was conducted in Guyana in June 2017. Field testing of the VPA annexes is an important step in the process of negotiating a Voluntary Partnership Agreement (VPA) and takes place ahead of initialling of the Voluntary Partnership Agreement. It focusses on assessing the practicality and workability of the VPA Legality as well as on assessing government capacities and resources to carry out their responsibilities in ensuring forest sector operators meet legal requirements and as outlined in the Guyana Timber Legality Assurance System (GTLAS). The GTLAS is a key element of the VPA and forms the basis for legal compliance including traceability of timber product throughout the forest sector of Guyana. Certain enhancements are necessary to make the existing Legality Definition and GTLAS compliant with VPA requirements. Among these are e.g. certain changes in the legal status of the Codes of Practice and drafting of new Forest Regulations. Both gazetting of the Codes of Practice and drafting of the new Forest Regulations are currently being undertaken.
The Legality Definition contains certain conditions and verifiers that are not under the remit of the Guyana Forestry Commission such as an Environmental Authorisation (Environmental Protection Agency), compliance with tax requirements (Revenue Authority), compliance with National Insurance and Social Security Scheme (National Insurance Board), compliance with the Occupational Safety and Health Act and other labour laws (Ministry of Social Protection), Other Ministries and Agencies that are involved in the Legality Definition and the supply chain control are: Ministry of Indigenous Peoples’ Affairs, Guyana Lands and Survey Commission, Guyana Geology and Mines Commission. Wildlife Conservation and Management Commission, Deeds and Commercial Registries Authority, Friendly Societies Registry, Department of Co-operative Society, Deeds Registry, Land Registry, National Plant Protection Organisation, Ministry of Public Infrastructure and Ministry of Presidency. All these Ministries and Government Agencies will be in charge of verifying compliance of the FSOs with the Legality Definition under their mandate and will be required to provide data and information to the central Management Information System Unit to manage and maintain the FSOs’ electronic data-files.
The VPA is intended to be initialled in 2018.
Third party certification
There is one FSC-certified forest operation in Guyana (FSC, 2018); i.e., Iwokrama International Centre for Rain Forest Conservation and Development, which covers 371,680 hectares. There are also a few FSC COC certified operations.
There is also a Verification of Legal Compliance (RA-Cert) certificate covering over 100,000 hectares.
There is no PEFC-national standard; hence no PEFC certified forest operations or supply chains.
Sources of information
- CITES database
- EU FLEGT Facility: Guyana.
- Guyana Forestry Commission (2012) Code of Practice for Wood Processing Facilities (Version 2) – Sawmills & lumberyards
- Guyana Forestry Commission (2013) Code of Practice for Forest Operations (3rd edition) for Timber Sales Agreement and Wood Cutting License Holders.
- Guyana Forestry Commission (2013) National Wood Tracking System (Version 3.0)
- Guyana Forestry Commission (2018) Guidelines for Forest Operations For State Forest Authorizations - Timber Sales Agreements, Wood Cutting License Holders, State Forest Exploratory Permits (SFA-TSAs, WCLs, SFEPs)
- Guyana Forestry Commission (2018) Guidelines for Forest Operations For State Forest Authorizations ‐ State Forest Permission (SFAs ‐ SFPs)
- Forest Stewardship Council (2018) Facts and figures July 2018
- Rainforest Alliance Verification of Legal Compliance (VLC) - verified clients
- TFT-earth. Country guide to timber legality: Guyana
Source: Transparancy International