Timber harvesting activities
Colombian regulations related to the harvesting of timber resources differentiate between public and private lands.
- For public land, access is obtained through permits and concession contracts;
- For private land, special authorizations are required;
- In natural forests, cutting permits, which include legal requirements for management procedures, are used.
When forests are converted to other land uses or for the development of infrastructure, the law stipulates compensation measures, generally in the form of protective planted forests.
Colombia developed its own set of Criteria and Indicators (C&I) for Sustainable Forest Management, based on the global ITTO C&I for SFM. Although it has no juridical constraints, it is aimed to serve as a tool for environmental authorities to evaluate the implementation of SFM in the field (MinAm, 2021b). The Guidelines and Guidance for Forest Management is a tool to guide forest management processes in the country towards the sustainable management of the forest and its associated ecosystem services and contains all the steps and information needed to produce a Forest Management Plan (MADS, 2020).
The main aspects linked to SFM (Sustainable Forest Management) implementation are the:
- Forest inventory, basis of the Forest Management Plan, operated per systematic sampling;
- Forest Management Plan (FMP);
- Stock survey or logging inventory on the overall annual cutting area;
- Annual Operation Plan detailing the forecasted operations and the expected production;
For natural forest a timber harvesting license (resolucion de aprovechamiento) needs to be obtained. Further, a file containing the interest in the acquisition of the forest and general information on the area must be submitted. With all these data, an orientation visit is carried out to the owner of the property by the CAR concerned, and by means of a technical concept and official letter the owner will be informed whether a Forest Management Plan (FMP) must be submitted. The realization of a FMP is mandatory for all producing areas.
For the producing-protected areas put in place before the Law 1450 of 2011 and defined by Act 202 of Decree 2811 of 1974, these areas can remain in place and are not subject to a FMP. If the areas are not defined by the Decree 2811 of 1974, the environmental authority may reclassify them as production areas or protection areas. If they are reclassified as productive, they will then be subject to a FMP.
In private forests, forest harvesting is generally carried out under timber license contracts and authorizations granted to private owners by regional corporations (CAR). There are 19 regional corporations in major forest areas, which allocate, on average, about 100 cutting permits per year; nationwide, therefore, about 1900 cutting permits are granted annually. Generally, there is no systematic application of silviculture, even though this is required for ongoing logging activities under Decree 2811, Article 213 from 1974 (ITTO 2006).
Forest management plan approval
If a FMP is necessary, the operator then applies for FMP approval. This application is analysed by the CAR, and approved or refused. If the application is approved, the operator obtains a harvesting permit, and registers the species and volume of wood granted for the harvest, as well as the location of the parcel to be harvested on VITAL.
VITAL (Ventanilla Integral de Trámites Ambientales en Linea), is an online centralized tool used by the Environmental Authorities to automate administrative procedures.