According to the FAO (2015) Guyana has around 16.5 million hectares of forested land, which constitutes to 84.0% of the total land area. The full extent of 16.5 million hectares are primary or otherwise naturally regenerated forest. Guyana’s forests include tropical rainforest, seasonal forests, marsh forest and mountain forest, and are part of the wider Guyana Shield rainforest eco-region.
84.6% of the forest area is under the management and control of the Government of Guyana and the remainder is privately owned, which includes Amerindian Lands. Guyana has 5 protected areas which contain significant forest areas, which include (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) Kanashen, and (5) Shell Beach Protected Area, which includes mangrove forests.
Production and export
According to ITTO (2015) the industry of Guyana produced in 2014 about 492 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 77.9 million US dollars in 2014..
The timber harvesting is mainly done in the middle and northern part 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 industries 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. 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, and according to the Guyana Forestry Commission the main species exported in 2014 were:
- Wamara, Ituri Wallaba (Eperua grandiflora)
- Purpleheart (Peltogyne spp.)
- Mora (Mora excelsa)
- Greenheart, Demerara greenheart (Chlorocardium rodiei)
- Kabukalli, Cupiúba, Kopie (Goupia glabra)
In addition to these species there are much more species which are favoured by the international markets, such as:
- Bulletwood, Massaranduba (Manilkara bidentata), although harvesting of this species is allowed by special permission only.
- Locust, Jatoba (Hymenaea courbaril), although for the export of this species special regulations apply.
- Wamaradan, Basralocus (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 Forest Sector Information Report – Annual Review 2014
- 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 (2015) Biennial review and assessment of the world timber situation 2013-2014.
- World Port Source - Map of ports in Guyana with container liner service.
The Guyana Forestry Commission (GFC) holds the management rights for all state forest and issues permits to concessionaires for the commercial harvesting of timber. The main harvesting permits are:
(1) Timber Sales Agreement (TSA), which is issued for concessions of more than 24,291 hectares and allocated for 20 years; and
(2) 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 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.
In addition to the TSA and WCL permits there is also the State Forest Permissions (SFP), which is valid for two (2) years and issued for areas less than 8,094 hectares. These permissions are usually issued to community-based associations or small-scale operators.
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.
Holders of a TSA or WCL permit need to prepare a 3-5 year Forest Management Plan, which is reviewed by the GFC prior to harvesting. After approval a pre-harvest inventory will be carried out, including harvestable volume and area as well as non-harvestable area. Based on the pre-harvest inventory an Annual Operational Plan (AOP) is prepared, which needs to be submitted to the GFC for approval. After approval the GFC sends an approval letter to commence harvesting activities to the company, and including the Maximum Allowable Cut. The GFC issues log tracking tags and Removal Permits and harvesting is commenced, which need to comply with the GFC guidelines. Logs and stumps are tagged and the tag number (sequence) shall be recorded on the Removal Permit and the attached Production Register, next to the corresponding species and volume of the product being conveyed. After the logs reached its final destination the removal permits need to be submitted to the nearest Forest Station. Removal Permits are valid for 30 days after the day of issuance. After submission of the Removal Permit to the Forest Station, Transhipment Permits are used to facilitate the subsequent conveyance of forest products. Transhipment Permits are only issued to notarized concession holders or their agents who have paid their royalties.
All operational sawmilling and wood processing operations must be licensed annually by the GFC and hence will have to conform to the requirements for forest legality as established by the GFC. Logs entering a sawmill must be entered onto the Sawmill Record of Produce Received which records Removal Permit number, source, species, type of produce and volumes. Sales of sawn lumber must be recorded on the Bill of Sale and a monthly declaration made. Volumes of inputs and outputs must also be recorded on the monthly Return of Lumber Sawn and Lumber Produced.
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.
Trade and export
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. It ensures that, except in special cases, only concessionaires will be allowed to export logs which must originate from concessions allocated to them.
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.
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, and negotiations started in December 2012 and are still in progress. Guyana introduced already a log‐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.
Third party certification
There are no FSC- or PEFC-certified forests in Guyana. The only forest management certificate is a Rainforest Alliance certificate for Verification of Legal Compliance covering over 100,000 hectares.
Sources of information
- CITES database
- Guyana Forestry Commission (2013) Code of Practice for Forest Operations (3rd edition) for Timber Sales Agreement and Wood Cutting License Holders.
- Guyana Forestry Commission (2012) Code of Practice for Wood Processing Facilities (Version 2) – Sawmills & lumberyards
- Guyana Forestry Commission (2013) National Wood Tracking System (Version 3.0)
- Rainforest Alliance Verification of Legal Compliance (VLC) - verified clients
- TFT-earth. Country guide to timber legality: Guyana