The forest area of Honduras is 5.38 million hectares, equivalent to 47.9% of the national territory, not including secondary vegetation and savannahs. Broadleaf forests, with 3.1 million ha, represent 57.1% of the total Honduran forest area; they are located mainly in the lower North and East parts of the country, where rainfalls are abundant and well distributed throughout the year. The coniferous (pine) forests with 2.0 million ha then make another 36.6% of the total forest area; they are located in the high central parts of the country and form the second major ecosystem of Honduras. Mixed forests with 0.29 million ha represent another 5.3% of the total forest area. Mangroves and flooded forests, with 0.06 million ha, only represent 1.0% of the forest area but they constitute an irreplaceable and unique ecosystem that houses an incredible biodiversity. (ICF, Anuario Estadístico Forestal de Honduras 2016; MOSEF Project, 2017)
The forests of Honduras are biologically very diverse, but only a few tree species are the subject of significant timber trade. Pine forests are mainly represented by 7 species of the Pinus genus that constitute the basis of the primary wood-processing industry of the country. Oocarpa and caribea pines (Pinus oocarpa, Pinus caribea) are, by far, the most important. Other important hardwood timber species include Santa María (Calophyllum brasiliense), Laurel (Cordia alliodora), Ceiba (Ceiba pentandra), Tamarindo (Dialium guianense), San Juan (Vochysia guatemalensis), Masica (Brosimum alicastrum), Sangre, Caobina (Virola koschnyi), Cumbillo (Terminalia amazonica); Caoba del Atlántico (Swietenia macrophylla); Cedro macho (Carapa guianensis); Cedro real (Cedrela odorata), and Macuelizo (Tabebuia rosea), all hardwood species.
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.
The possession and traditional usufruct of national forests by settlers without definition of ownership have given rise to different denominations of different usufruct in various parts of the country. The regularization of the rights of settlers in national forests is still a preponderant factor in the rational use of these resources and therefore an important variable of socioeconomic development in the country. In the last 10 years, several governments have recognized public lands for indigenous communities and some legal representatives have been delegated to manage and harvest forests. This process is being used in various parts of the country and does not alter state property. (MOSEF Project, 2017)
The current area under forest management is currently of 278,720 ha in 614 management plans, with an estimated annual growth of 551,362 m3.
In terms of deforestation, most of the forests that are located close to urban centres have been exploited without proper control to be used for firewood and raw construction timber. The total loss of forest in Honduras over 2000 – 2016 is approximately 372,857 ha, with an average annual loss rate of 23,304 ha/yr (2006 - 2012 being the period with the greatest deforestation rate). The ecosystem that was most affected by deforestation is the evergreen broadleaved rainforest, with an average loss of 17,408 ha/yr, followed by the deciduous broadleaved forest (3,187 ha/yr), the coniferous forest (2,635 ha/yr) and the mangrove forest (75 ha/yr).
The average recovery of forests in Honduras over the same period is 2,353 ha/yr (2000 - 2006 being the period with the highest increase). The ecosystem that presented the greatest activity in terms of forest recovery is the broadleaf rainforest with an average annual gain of 1,285 ha/yr. (Análisis de Perdidas, Ganancias y Deforestación Neta de los bosques de Honduras, ICF 2018)
Production and export
As can be observed from the table below 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 2015 for 32% of the Honduran total sawnwood production. Exports of plywood, being the second most important product, were only about 20,000 m3 in 2015.
The contribution of the Forestry sector to the national GDP was 0.82% in 2016 (USD 62.5 million). For the primary processing industry, the total production (sawnwood, plywood, others) in 2016 was of 110.95 million board feet or 261,844 m3 in all products, which is equivalent to 508,245 “round wood equivalent” m3 of raw material used for such production. Of this primary production, 260,631 m3 corresponded to pine wood (99.5%) and the remaining 1,213 m3 to broadleaf forests’ hardwood (0.5%). For pinewood, the production is divided between 259,820 m3 by the industry (142 companies reported production during 2016) and 811 m3 from field sawing (mobile or chainsaw milling). The regions that reported the highest production of pine wood during 2016 are Francisco Morazán with 141,819 m3 (54.4%), Yoro 28,839 m3 (11.1%), Northwest 25,610 m3 (9.8%), Comayagua 20,304 m3 (7.8%) and Olancho 19,811 m3 (7.6%). For hardwood timber, a production of only 1,213 m3 is reported, divided between 794 m3 by the industry and 420 m3 from mobile or chainsaw milling in the field. The production of hardwood species almost entirely comes from the Atlantic coastal region. (Anuario Estadístico Forestal 2016, ICF)
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.
The net balance in monetary value between exports (USD 81.4 million) and imports (USD 54.3 million) is positive (27.1 million), which means that Honduras is a net exporter of wood products, although the majority of exports correspond to semi-finished products. The biggest export values in millions of USD are pine sawnwood (32.0 million), followed by wooden furniture (12.8 million), resins (6.0 million), wooden boards (5.8 million), tool handles (5.4 million), wood packing (5.2 million), wood stakes (5.0 million), and industrial joinery (3.4 million). (Anuario Estadístico Forestal 2016, ICF)
Sources of information
- FAO, Forest Statistics Yearbook 2016
- FAO (2015) Global Forest Resources Assessment 2015
- Fordaq - timber trade network
- Forest Legality Alliance risk tool - Honduras
- Forest Trends, 2013
- ICF, Anuario Estadístico Forestal de Honduras 2016, Volumen 31, Año 31
- ICF (2018), Análisis de pérdidas, ganancias y deforestación neta de los bosques de Honduras
- ITC (International Trade Centre) calculations based on UN Comtrade statistics
- ITTO (2011) Status of tropical forest management 2011 – Honduras
- ITTO (2017) ITTO Biennial review and assessment of the world timber situation 2015-2016
- MOSEF Project (2017)
- World Port Source - Map of ports in Honduras with container liner service.
FORESTRY AND ENVIRONMENT INSTITUTIONS
The Instituto Nacional de Conservación y Desarrollo Forestal, Áreas Protegidas y Vida Silvestre (ICF), in English ‘National Institute of Forest Conservation and Development, Protected Areas and Fauna’, is the national forest authority in charge of supervising forest management, industrial extraction, transport and processing of forest products, although other state entities may also participate in forest control activities.
The Sistema Nacional de Áreas Protegidas y Vida Silvestre de Honduras (SINAPH) is an instance described in the Forest Law, that is responsible for developing, regulating and supervising scientific and applied research carried out in protected areas or on their biodiversity, taking into account the management categories and respecting the traditional and cultural practices of local communities.
The Agenda Forestal Hondureña (AFH), in English 'Honduran Forestry Agenda', is an independent, non-governmental (by its statutes, and being governed by a Board of Directors and an Executive Coordinator), of public interest and right, apolitical and non-for-profit association. Its membership within the National Forestry Advisory Council (COCONAFOR) reinforces its role as a driver of participatory processes in the development of the country’s forest resources, while aiming at reducing environmental vulnerability and combating poverty, which includes:
- The facilitation of processes for the development of the forestry sector
- Forming alliances between national and international institutions and organizations
- Participation in the implementation of the National Forestry Program (Biodiversity and Protected Areas, Climate Change, Forest Certification and community participation) and in national and international processes such as the AVA-FLEGT, REDD +, and Climate Change.
Forest governance in Honduras emerged when the Administración Forestal del Estado (AFE), in English ‘State Forestry Administration’, was created in 1974 under the Ministry of Natural Resources. Since its creation, the AFE has been legally identified with different names (General Forest Directorate, COHDEFOR and now ICF), and with different initiatives to manage the sustainable use and conservation of forest resources.
Currently, in compliance with the Forestry law of 1972, the 'National Strategy for the Control of Illegal Logging and Illegal Transport of Forest Products' (‘Estrategia Nacional para el Control de la Tala y Transporte Ilegales de los Productos Forestales’ – ENCTI - in Spanish) was defined, in which two Forest Advisory Councils were developed and organized at different levels of hierarchy, as instances of citizen participation, consultation and support for the ICF.
With a view to further strengthening forest sector governance, the EU is promoting, together with the national authorities, the negotiation of the EU-Honduras Voluntary Partnership Agreement (VPA) under the EU Action Plan for Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade (FLEGT). FLEGT is the EU initiative established in 2003 to improve governance and reduce illegal logging by promoting the legal and sustainable management of forest resources. (See NATIONAL ACTION ON TIMBER LEGALITY)
Other initiatives have included the ‘Forestry sector modernization project of Honduras’ (Proyecto ‘Modernización del Sector del Forestal de Honduras’, in Spanish). (MOSEF Project, 2013-2017)
FOREST CODE, AND RELEVANT REGULATIONS
- Forest Law, Protected Areas and Wildlife (‘Ley Forestal, Áreas Protegidas y Vida Silvestre’ in Spanish) and its implementing Decree No. 156-2007;
- General Environmental Law (‘Ley General del Ambiente’ in Spanish’) and its Decree No. 104-93;
- Law on incentives for afforestation, reforestation and forest protection (‘Ley de Incentivos a la Forestación, Reforestación y a la Protección del Bosque’ in Spanish’) and its Decree No. 163-93
In order to harvest, the area requires a 5-Year General Management Plan (‘Plan General de Manejo’ in Spanish) that includes an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) and is approved by the ICF. From this are derived the Annual Operation Plans, which are those that empower the forest administrator to extract wood and other forest products indicated in the Management Plan or Master Plan.
The Forest Law distinguishes different types of management plans as part of the General Management Plan, in different situations:
- management plans for national forests (planes de manejo en bosques nacionales, in Spanish)
- 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
The exact requirements of these plans also vary depending on the size of the territory (small, medium, or large) under a Forest management contract (‘Contrato de Manejo Forestal’, in Spanish). All plans should be formulated by certified forestry professionals and then submitted for approval to the ICF and the municipality where the forest area is located. The involvement and participation in forest management activities of the people who live in, and around the forests has recently become important.
All Forest Management Plans (‘Planes de manejo’) describe the activities that will be carried out during a specific period of time, in order to harvest the wood present in a forest or group of forested areas. The FMP must at least comply with the following aspects (See U-ESNACIFOR, 2015): In general, pine forests are managed with the technical criteria of the management of regulated or uniform forests in their development, despite the fact that in most cases their extraction is selective, since the new forest stands are the product of dissemination of seeds of selected trees (“Father Trees”), although artificial plantation is always considered. Hardwood species almost entirely originate in natural forests. Due to the large number of species and different biological ages existing per unit area in this type of forest, the content of a management plan in a broadleaf forest is totally different from that in a coniferous forest.
According to the current Forest Law, forestland conversion to other uses and changes to the vegetation are not allowed without permission of the ICF.
The Annual operation plan - AOP (‘Plan Operativo anual’) contains the guidelines for forest management activities to be applied in a particular area in the period of one year. The technical prescription of all forest management activities, plus the volumetric information and trees to be extracted, should be reflected in the AOP, which will become the execution tool for field activities. The AOP facilitates the implementation, monitoring and evaluation of the actions proposed in the EIA (See U-ESNACIFOR, Manual de Manejo Forestal Integral, 2015).
Once the technical prescription document is available, with its orientation and parameters to be followed, preparation of the AOP will be carried out, within the framework of the forest management plan for the site. In this sense, the management plan’s information such as: volume, areas to intervene, location maps, compartments and strata should be used.
The Felling Plan is part of the AOP, and the information required by the ICF to manage the Felling Plan, is as follows:
A. Documentation required in national forests
- Contract document of the auction, or full management agreement, with all its programs (maps, volumes, clauses, etc.) duly approved
- Tax payment receipts
- Payment receipts to the ICF
- Bank guarantee that the buyer of the contract has placed
- Proof that the contractor is registered with ICF
B. Documentation required in private and “ejidal” (municipal) land forests
- Complete AOP (maps, volumes, clauses, etc.) duly approved
- Tax payment receipts
- Payment receipts for administrative services
- Proof that the contractor is registered with ICF
(See ICF, Guía de administración de planes de aprovechamiento en bosques de pino 2012)
There are various payable taxes and fees in forest management, particularly:
- “Canon de tronconaje” (Tax on extracted wood) to ICF, paid per cubic meter wood.
- AOP Preparation Cost (Annual Operating Plan), paid per cubic meter wood.
- AOP Administration Cost, paid per cubic meter wood.
- Accounting Services, which is an annual single payment
- Audit report, which is an annual single payment
- Forest Certification, paid per cubic meter wood. This is mandatory and must be done by certified forestry professionals.
In addition to these costs, each municipality is entitled to apply Municipality charges at an autonomously fixed rate.
he General management plan is followed by the preparation and approval of the Annual operation plan (AOP - see above). The AOP needs to be approved by the ICF, based on on-site local verification by ICF inspectors, prior to tree felling and based on the AOP, that the marked trees were authorized for felling.
The logging company is requested to identify each piece of wood with a unique code. For every felled tree, the volume and number of pieces must be recorded in a Tree report (Informe Técnico, or Planilla), which is completed on-site and reviewed by local ICF inspectors, and forms the basis of the checks whenever the timber is transported from one place to another. The original Tree Report remains with the logging company, while a copy is given to the local ICF office. The ICF needs to define and approve the transport routes of the harvested timber, identifying the transfer stations and the collection centres.
POST-FELLING REQUIREMENTS, POST-FELLING INSPECTION
For the registration, control and monitoring of forestry activities, the qualified forest technician in charge of the administration will carry a logbook in which he/she must keep record of the execution of the approved Felling plan until harvesting is completed. The activities that must be registered are: pre-op meeting, request for waybills, delivery of waybills, request for unit changes, observations and recommendations of the field inspections, notifications to the owner, notifications to the contractor, request of new “bacadillas” (piles of round wood in the forest), inspection of total settlement and any other aspect that the technician considers relevant. Any notification made by the forest technician in the logbook must be signed by the person who was notified. (See ICF Manual ‘Lineamientos y normas para un mejor manejo forestal’)
Supervision of operations
As a minimum, the ICF supervisor of the Felling plan will make periodic visits, or as the procedure of the AOP requires. Inspections focus on the areas and activities of the Felling plan that have the greater potential environmental impacts, such as:
- Respect of the boundaries of the Felling plan
- Protection of water streams
- Tree felling
- Damage to the remaining forest.
(See Manual ‘Lineamientos y normas para un mejor manejo forestal’)
Within the criteria for sustainable forest management of which Honduras is a signatory, Indicator no.1 mentions the "Existence of a legal, political, institutional, technical, economic and social framework that guarantees and promotes the sustainable management and conservation of forests” where reference is made to the respect of cultural values for the use of forest resources in territories under the control of local populations with emphasis on indigenous populations. More information on progress in the implementation and application of this Indicator, however, is not, or not officially available. (See ‘Criterios e indicadores para la Ordenación Forestal Sostenible en Centroamerica. Informe’. FAO, CCAD (Comisión Centroamericana de Ambiente y Desarrollo), CCAB-AP (Consejo Centroamericano de Bosques y Areas Protegidas). Enero 1997)
The regional ICF office approves and issues a Transport Document (Guía de movilización) or Waybill, which is the main document that accompanies the timber from the harvesting site to the industrial manufacturer / buyer. Before a truck loaded with logs may leave the harvesting site, an ICF inspector measures all the logs to be extracted on the Waybill. The original approved Waybill is given to the driver of the truck and 4 copies to the forest manager/owner and to the qualified forestry experts (‘técnicos forestales calificados’ – TFC in Spanish). The truck driver must present the original Waybill at fixed checkpoints, where the national police stamps it. Finally, the completed, approved and stamped Waybill is given to the buyer. The buyer must then report to the ICF on a monthly basis all inputs of raw material, matching the Waybills (Waybill number, volume, species, type of product, AOP number, date). The regional ICF office uploads all data from the Waybills to the online information system called ‘SIRMA’ and checks the archives.
Every commercial sale of wood from forest harvesting companies must be accompanied by a commercial invoice (‘Factura comercial’, in Spanish) that matches the reported outputs at the collection site. At the sales stores and processing industry sites, a Register of purchases and sales (‘Registro de Compras y Ventas’, in Spanish) is kept, linking the information on the Waybill with that of 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.
Processing and Trade
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 only 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, or “caoba del pacifico” (Swietenia humilis)
- Bigleaf mahogany, or “caoba del Atlántico” (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 (ENCTI).
On June 14, 2018 the EU and Honduras concluded negotiations on a Voluntary Partnership Agreement (VPA) on Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade (FLEGT). The agreement will help improve forest governance, address illegal logging and promote trade in verified legal timber products from Honduras. Honduras was the first country in the Americas to enter into VPA negotiations with the EU in January 2013. Honduras and the EU marked the formal end of VPA negotiations by initialing the document, ahead of signing and ratifying it.
To implement the agreement, Honduras will develop systems and procedures to verify that all timber and timber products for export and domestic markets comply with relevant laws and regulations. The VPA also provides for the establishment of complaints mechanisms and independent audits, as well as commitments to transparency in the forest sector.
Of the 15 countries now negotiating or implementing a VPA with the EU, Honduras is the only one to have recognised indigenous peoples as a distinct group alongside government, civil society and private sector representatives in the process to shape the agreement’s content. As a result, the agreement directly addresses issues affecting indigenous peoples.
The EU and Honduras will jointly oversee implementation of the agreement. This substantial task will require the continued commitment and engagement of all stakeholders. Once the VPA is fully implemented, Honduran shipments of timber products to the EU will have to be accompanied by a FLEGT licence, demonstrating their legality. FLEGT-licensed products automatically meet the requirements of the EU Timber Regulation, which prohibits the placing of illegal timber on the EU market.
Through the agreement, Honduras expects to modernise its forestry sector, improve business competitiveness and address issues such as land tenure, while protecting the rights of indigenous and Afro-Honduran communities.
More information: Honduras VPA web page
Third party certification
Currently, there is one valid FSC Group forest management certificate in Honduras covering a total area of 17,815 ha of forest. This group certificate is held by the COATLAHL cooperative (Cooperativa Regional Agroforestal Colón, Atlántida Honduras Ltda.) on behalf of small timber-producing community groups, who manage natural broadleaf forests. (FSC Facts and Figures, 2019)
Sources of information
- Benefits that FSC certification has brought to smallholders – Case study Honduras
- CITES database
- CLIFOR, Manual de manejo forestal integral (U-ESNACIFOR, Siguatepeque, Honduras; EUROFOR/Programa adaptación al Cambio Climático en el Sector Forestal (2015)
- EU FLEGT facility - Honduras
- FAO, Criterios indicadores para la Ordenación Forestal Sostenible en Centroamérica. Informe’. FAO, CCAD (Comisión Centroamericana de Ambiente y Desarrollo), CCAB-AP (Consejo Centroamericano de Bosques y Areas Protegidas). Enero 1997
- Forest Legality Alliance – risk tool Honduras
- FSC report “Facts & Figures” – January 2019
- ICF-GIZ (2012) Manual Metodológico de Cadena de Custodia para madera aserrada de Bosque Latifoliado
- ICF, Formato para la elaboración de planes de aprovechamiento forestal en bosque latifoliado de Honduras (2012)
- ICF, Guía de administración de planes de aprovechamiento en bosques de pino (ICF, USAID/US-IP, Tegucigalpa, 2012)
- ICF, Guía para la Organización de la Plataforma de Gobernanza Forestal Ambiental del Departamento de El Paraíso, Honduras Programa UE-FAO FLEGT/ICF/AFH)
- ICF, Manual Lineamientos y normas para un mejor manejo forestal (ICF, FSDA/USAID Honduras, Tegucigalpa 2011)
- ICF, Normas y pautas técnicas para la elaboración de planes de manejo operativos de bosque latifoliado (2012)
- ICF, Tasas y derechos por servicio prestado. Nota personal. Departamento de Manejo y Desarrollo Forestal (2018).
- Rainforest Alliance. Informe Anual 2017 del Manejo Forestal de Cooperativa Regional de Servicios Agroforestales, Colón, Atlántida, Honduras (COATLAHL) (2018)
Source: Transparancy International