Timber harvesting activities
The Ministries of Environment (MAE) in natural forests, and of Agriculture (MAG) in forest plantations, respectively, are the national forest authorities that have to authorize harvesting; in both cases through issuance of a Harvesting permit (Licencia de Aprovechamiento Forestal) and transport permits, or waybills (Guías de Circulación de Madera) that are based on an approved Cutting license (Programa de corta) – See below.
When it comes to wood from natural regrowth on deforested land and agroforestry systems, the use and transport is carried out based on a cutting plan (Programa de corta – PC) for over 12m3, or a special form.
Cutting license (Programa de corta)
Forest legislation for natural forests establishes that prior to the issuance of the Cutting license, it is necessary to prepare an Integral Management Plan (PMI) and get approval from the MAE.
Harvesting in governmental natural production forests also requires a forest inventory, the preparation of a forest management plan*, the physical demarcation of concession limits, and social payments.
* In case the extraction of wood is carried out without making use of heavy machinery, the activities fall under the Program of Simplified Forest Management (PAFSI), while extraction with heavy machinery falls under the Sustainable Forest Management Program (PAFSU).
The Agreement 125 (Acuerdo 125) is the guide through the process to be followed for obtaining a Cutting license from the MAE (for natural forests), which includes submitting the following information:
- The location of the harvesting area and a copy of the document (Certificación de propiedad) proving ownership issued by the Property registry office of each County (Cantón);
- A copy of personal identification documents for the owner and the harvesting manager;
- A document designating the Legal representative (for a company or a community);
- A sketch-map of the location of the property;
- The standing volume of timber to be harvested, per species (forest inventory);
- A document (Carta de Delegación), signed by the owner delegating, and by the harvesting manager taking, responsibility for implementation of the Cutting license, and notarized.
In the case of forest plantations, there is a simplified process to be approved by the MAG, whereby up to five documents are requested by the online system of the MAG to obtain the Cutting license, according to the "Agreement 327" (Acuerdo 327):
- Property registration
- Identity Documents
- Volume of wood
- Delegation of the seller
- If the seller is a company, power of attorney delivered by the partners.
Approval of the Cutting license and obtaining a Harvesting permit
With the information of the Cutting license, the concessionaire / forest manager has to go to the relevant ministry (MAE for natural forests, MAG for plantation forests) and request inspection for approval. The approval must be given out within 15 days after application. Once the Cutting license has been approved, the Harvesting permit can be requested from the relevant Ministry; it will be valid for one year (and can be extended once, for 9 more months). The request has to be accompanied by information about the timber volumes to be harvested, matching or fitting within the inventory on the approved Cutting License. Once the Harvesting permit is issued, the owner may start harvesting the wood.
Cutting licenses and Harvesting permits shall receive a code and be registered in the “Forest data registry" (Registro del libro forestal) and the administrative information and control system SAF (Sistema de Administración Forestal), at the Provincial Directorate of the MAE. The MAG uses another forest production information system called SPF (Sistema de Producción Forestal) for forest plantations. For thinning, other requirements apply. Pruning can be done without a Harvesting permit, but in case the pruned products are going to be sold, a Transport license is needed.