According to the FAO (2015) Honduras has around 4.59 million hectares of forest land, which is around 41% of the total land area. Around 10% of this area is classified as primary forest, while the remainder is otherwise naturally regenerated forest. There has been relatively little development of planted forests in Honduras.
The forests of the country are differentiated by two major ecosystems: broadleaf forests in the lower parts of the Atlantic, and coniferous forests in the high central parts of the country. The forests of Honduras are very biologically diverse, but only a few tree species are traded in significant commercial quantities. Pines (Pinus oocarpa, Pinus caribea) are by far the most important, but other important timber species include Santa Maria (Calophyllum brasiliense), Laurel (Cordia alliodora), Ceiba (Ceiba pentandra), Tamarindo (Dialium guianense); San Juan (Vochysia guatemalensis), Maya nut (la nuez ramón - Brosimum alicastrum), Cumala (Virola koschnyi), Nargusta (Terminalia amazonica); Big-leaf mahogany (Swietenia macrophylla); Andiroba (Carapa guianensis); Spanish cedar (Cedrela odorata), and Apamate (Tabebuia rosea).
About 62% of the national forest area is publicly owned, including national forests (40%) and protected forests (18%). The remaining 38% of the national forest area is under private ownership, which includes privately owned forests, community forests and tribal forests.
During much of the last century forest land occupation was a common means for rural households to access land. As a result, many forest areas were inhabited and used by smallholders and communities long before private ownership titles were issued. In many parts of the country, title-less residents – and often even owners with earlier titles – gradually discovered that the public forest and agriculture lands they depended upon were recognized by the state as private property of large landowners. This has resulted in overlapping tenure claims, and in some cases violent eviction by the newly empowered landowners (Forest Trends, 2013).
According to FAO (2015) the annual rate of deforestation was 2.4% for the period 2010-2015. The main drivers of deforestation and forest degradation are farming and illegal activities, including illegal logging.
Production and export
As can be observed from the table below (ITTO, 2015) the vast majority of Honduran wood production serves the domestic market. The exports of sawnwood, being the most important primary timber export product, accounted in 2014 for only 16% of the Honduran total sawnwood production. Exports of plywood, being the second most important product, were only about 10,000 m3 in 2014.
Nearly all Honduran wood production serves the domestic market, although a relatively small amount of mainly pine sawnwood is exported to other countries. To see a satellite map of Honduran ports, visit World Port Source. The destination countries of timber from Honduras are primarily the United States of America and countries in the region, as can be observed from the graph below.
Sources of information
- FAO (2015) Global Forest Resources Assessment 2015
- Fordaq - timber trade network
- Forest Legality Alliance risk tool - Honduras
- ITC (International Trade Centre) calculations based on UN Comtrade statistics
- ITTO (2011) Status of tropical forest management 2011 – Honduras
- ITTO (2015) ITTO Biennial review and assessment of the world timber situation 2013-2014
- World Port Source - Map of ports in Honduras with container liner service.
The Institute of Forest Conservation (Instituto Nacional de Conservación – ICF) is the national forest authority in charge of supervising industrial extraction, transport and processing of forest products, although other state entities may also participate in forest control activities.
The Forest Law distinguishes among different types of managed forest areas:
- management plans for national forests (planes de manejo en bosques nacionales)
- management plans for private forests (planes de manejo en bosques privados)
- management plans for municipal forests (planes de manejo en bosque municipal)
- special management plans for agroforestry groups (Planes de manejo especiales para grupos agroforestales PESA)
- plans for pest control or salvage (planes de control y salvamento) for infected trees or plagues
- sanitation plans (planes de saneamiento), for the removal of defective trees
In order to harvest, the area requires a general management plan (Plan General de Manejo), that is approved by the ICF and includes an environmental impact assessment. The exact requirements of these plans vary depending on the size of the territory (small, medium, or large) under the forest management contract (Contrato de Manejo Forestal). All plans should be formulated by certified forestry professionals and then submitted for approval to the ICF and the municipality in which the forest area is located.
The general management plan is followed by the preparation and approval of the annual management plan (Plan Operativo Annual - POA) which needs to be approved by regional ICF officials. The local ICF officials are obliged to verify on-site, prior to tree felling and based on the Plan Operativo Annual (POA), that the marked trees were authorized for felling. The forest harvesting company is responsible to identify each piece of wood with a unique code. For every harvested tree the volume and number of pieces needs to be recorded in a Tree Report (Informe Técnico or Planilla), which is completed on-site and which is reviewed by local ICF officials, and forms the basis of the controls whenever the timber is transported from one place to another. The original Informe Técnico remains with the forest harvesting company, while a copy is given to the local ICF official. These officials need to define and approve the transport routes of the harvested timber, identifying the transfer stations and the collection centres.
The regional ICF office approves and issues a Transport Guide (Guia de movilización), when the forest manager can present an approved Harvest Permit (Autorización de aprovechamiento). Before a truck with timber may leave the harvesting site, a technical ICF officer measures all stems or parts, collecting the dimensions of all timber to be extracted on the Transport Guide (Guia de movilización). The original approved Transport Guide is given to the driver of the truck and 4 copies are given to the forest manager/owner and to qualified forest officers (técnicos forestales calificados - TFC). The truck driver has to present the original Transport Guide at fixed control posts, where it is stamped by the national police. Finally, the completed, approved and stamped Transport Guide is given to the buyer. The buyer has to report on a monthly basis to the ICF all inputs of raw material, corresponding with the Transport Guides (number of the transport Guide, volume, species, type of product, number of the operational plan POA, date).
The regional ICF office collects all data from the Transport Guides in the online information system called ‘SIRMA’ and checks the archives. The Transport Guide is the main document that accompanies the timber from the harvesting site to the industrial manufacturer / buyer.
Every commercial sale of wood from forest harvesting companies must be accompanied by a commercial invoice (facture comercial), which must correspond with the reported outputs of the collection centre. At the sales stores and processing industry sites a register of purchases and sales (Registro de Compras y Ventas) is kept, linking the information on the Guía de movilización with the buyer of the timber and the commercial invoice issued.
The below listed key documents are based on the applicable legislation and are considered to play a key role in demonstrating legal origin.
Trade and export
Bans and quota
The export of hardwood species from natural forests is only allowed as transformed or processed wood. Exporting hardwood species as roundwood or squared logs is prohibited.
Cites and protected species
There are several tree species from Honduras CITES-listed.
CITES Appendix I:
- Guatemalan fir (Abies guatemalensis)
CITES Appendix II:
- Honduras mahogany (Swietenia humilis)
- Bigleaf mahogany (Swietenia macrophylla)
- Cocobolo (Dalbergia retusa)
- Lignum vitae (Guaiacum spp.)
- Granadillo (Platymiscium pleiostachyum)
National action on timber legality
In 2010, ICF adopted a national strategy for the control of illegal harvesting and transport of forest products (Estrategia Nacional para el Control de la Tala y el Transporte Ilegal de los Productos Forestales, ENCTI). Honduras is negotiating a VPA with the EU since 2012. In April 2016 the 5th negotiation round was completed and important progress was made in the implementation of documents that back-up the process.
Third party certification
Thus far there is only 1 valid FSC Group forest management certificate in Honduras covering a total area of 20164 ha. This group certificate is held by the COATLAHL cooperative on behalf of a number of small timber-producing community groups, who manage natural broadleaf forests.
Sources of information
- Benefits that FSC certification has brought to smallholders – Case study Honduras
- CITES database
- EU FLEGT facility - Honduras
- Forest Legality Alliance – risk tool Honduras
- FSC report “Facts & Figures” – June 2016
- Manual Metodológico de Cadena de Custodia para madera aserrada de Bosque Latifoliado