• Guyana

Legal framework for forest management and timber trade of Guyana

Forest governance

The Guyana Forestry Commission (GFC) has the statutory mandate to manage and regulate Guyana’s State Forests and is responsible for the issuing of state forest authorisations (large and small concessions), exploratory permits, removal and transportation documents, sawmill, timber dealers and lumber yard licenses, timber export certificates and for monitoring of forest legality and supply chains.

Social, fiscal and environmental aspects of forest governments are under the mandate of the Ministry of Social Protection, The National Insurance Board and the Ministry of Amerindian Affairs; the Revenue Authority and the Environmental Protection Agency, respectively.

Legal rights to harvest

The Guyana Forestry Commission (GFC) holds the management rights for all State Forests and issues authorisations to large and small concessionaires for the commercial harvesting of timber. Timber can also be legally sourced from Titled Amerindian Lands, Private Lands, and State Lands in conversion.

Large Concessions – Areas larger than 8097 hectares are categorised by the GFC as large concessions.  Forest operators of Large Concessions must have a State Forest Authorisation granted by the GFC. These State Forest Authorisations can be either a Forest Concession Agreement or an Exploratory Permit. Forest Concession Agreements can either be Timber Sales Agreements or Wood Cutting Leases, which are granted for up to 40 years or subject to conditional renewal.

These concession agreements apply to larger concessions and their requirements are different from those of smaller concessions. The applicants for harvesting permits of new larger concessions need to possess a precursor State Forest Exploratory Permit (SFEP), which is issued for undertaking exploratory operations such as forest 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. A TSA or WCL is issued after approval of a specified set of documents, including a management plan and for a first concession agreement also a valid SFEP.

Small Concessions – Areas of 8097 hectares or less are categorised by the GFC as small concessions. Forest operators of Small Concessions must have a State Forest Authorisation that can either be a State Forest Permission or a Community Forest Management Agreement. These State Forest Authorisations are granted by the GFC for up to two years, subject to conditional renewal. 

Amerindian Villages – Section 2 of the Amerindian Act defines Village or Amerindian Village as “a group of Amerindians occupying or using Village lands” and Village lands as “lands owned communally by a Village” under an Absolute Grant or Certificate of Title granted to the Village Council (VC) to hold for the benefit of the Village. An Amerindian Village becomes a Forest Sector Operator (FSO) when it enters into a contract with the GFC to conduct commercial harvesting within the boundaries of the Amerindian Village.

Private Lands–Section 2 of the Forests Act 2009 defines Private Lands as “land that is neither public land nor village land”, and which are legally held by either an individual(s) or body corporate by Registered title, Transport or Absolute Grant. A private landowner becomes an FSO when it enters into a contract with the GFC to conduct commercial harvesting within the boundaries of the private land.

State Lands in Conversion - Timber products can be salvaged from State Lands that are approved by the relevant Ministries and Government Agencies to be converted to non-forest land uses under the following authorisations:

  1. Mining Licence or Permit - A Mining licence or permit is issued by the Guyana Geology and Mines Commission over an area within State Lands to prospect, mine for, take and appropriate any minerals. A holder of a mining licence or permit becomes an FSO when authorised by the GFC to salvage timber products within the boundaries of that area.
  2. Leases- a lease is issued by the Guyana Lands and Surveys Commission over an area within State Lands for the purposes of agriculture or other activities. A holder of a lease becomes an FSO when authorised by the GFC to salvage timber products within the boundaries of that area.
  3. Infrastructure (roads, hydropower plant, dams, etc.) - The Ministry of Presidency grants approval to construct hydropower plants while the Ministry of Public infrastructure grants authorisations to conduct all other infrastructural works, such as roads and bridges. A holder of an infrastructural approval becomes an FSO when authorised by the GFC to salvage timber products within the boundaries of that area.

Taxes and fees

  • Royalty payable per cubic metre extracted; different rates apply to four species classes
  • Annual area fee
  • Export commission on log exports; different rates for two schedules
  • Fees apply for various permits and applications


Timber harvesting activities

Holders of a TSA or WCL concession agreement need to prepare a 3-5 year Forest Management Plan (FMP) and Annual Operational Plan (AOP), which are reviewed by the GFC prior to harvesting. For the preparation of the 5-yr FMP a ‘management-level inventory’ (<1% sampling intensity) is required. For the preparation of the AOP TSA and WCL holders are required to submit 100% pre-harvest inventory information (stock maps and data sheets) for all blocks that are proposed to be harvested in the operational year along with the Annual Operational Plan. A 2.5% verification exercise of the Inventory Information is carried out by the GFC before final approval is granted. An approval letter to commence harvesting activities is prepared and sent to the company based on the recommendations of the verification exercise. Block approval letters are prepared after taking into consideration the Maximum Allowable Cut (MAC), which is the lower volume figure of the Annual Allowable Cut (AAC) and the Inventoried Volume, specifying the blocks that may be harvested and the respective MAC for each individual block. The AAC is set at a maximum of 20 m³/ha for a 60 year cutting cycle or prorated as e.g. 8.33 m³/ha for a 25-year cycle. Block approval letters are forwarded to the relevant officers within the GFC to effect monitoring and for filing/reference purposes. Log tracking tag quota is also determined based on the MAC. An operator’s annual quota is calculated based on the MAC and equated to the number of standing trees which will yield the volume and the number of trees computed. This will indicate the number of tags to be issued. Each operator is recognized by a unique sequence of numbers assigned to that operation, while tags are issued in sequences to be used in particular blocks only in case of large concessions. The GFC defines log quota for small concessionaires depending on the size of their concession and previous harvesting records. No pre-harvest inventory or tagging of stumps is required for Amerindian Villages and private lands.

All timber must be tagged, including logs, lumber, piles, poles and posts. In the case where logs are converted in-forest (using a chainsaw or mobile mill) the removal and transport of lumber must be accompanied by a Removal Permit and tags are attached to batches of lumber originating from the source logs.

For forest harvesting and transport, monitoring is done at station level, at concession level and supplemented by random monitoring by the GFC’s Internal Audit Unit and supervisory staff. At all active large concessions, resident forest officers perform the function of ensuring that all monitoring and legality procedures are strictly complied with. In instances of breach, an investigation is conducted and, based on the outcome; action is instituted according to GFC’s standard procedures for illegal actions and procedural breaches.

Requirements that apply to the employer, for the benefit of workers; e.g. workers’ registration, contracts, Health & Safety requirements, PPE’s, training requirements, insurance, union are technically under the mandate of the Ministry of Social Protection and similar Ministries/Government Agencies. However, social requirements are treated in the Codes of Practice and are effectively monitored by GFC officers due to the lack of presence in the interior of the other Government Agencies/Ministries.

Third parties’ rights

According to the Amerindian Act 2006, Amerindian people have traditional subsistence right or privilege in respect of any State Forest, which is owned legally or by custom by an Amerindian Village or Amerindian Community and which is exercised sustainably in accordance with the spiritual relationship which the Amerindian Village or Amerindian Community has with the land.

If the GFC intends to issue a permit, concession, licence, timber sales agreement or other permission in respect of any State forests which are contiguous with Village lands, the GFC shall first consider the impact on the Village.

Trade and transport

In order to remove timber products from a large or small concession a Removal Permit with associated production register is required. Amerindian Villages that are desirous to conduct commercial harvesting within the boundaries of the Titled Amerindian Village Land use a Private Property Removal Declaration to transport timber products instead of as Removal Permit. Secondary transport documents include: a) Transhipment Permit which is used to transport timber products from State forests for which royalties have been paid and for which the Removal Permit has been surrendered to the GFC; b) Trip Sheet which is used to transport forest products that may otherwise require several Removal Permits before the produce is declared on a Removal Permit for the payment of royalty; Trip Sheets must be issued in connection with a Removal Permit; c) Bill of Sale which may be used to transport timber products once royalties have been paid and the Removal Permit has been surrendered to the GFC; d) Clearance Pass which is a document used for the release/removal of confiscated forest produce/items once non-compliances regarding confiscated timber products have been resolved in order for the timber product to re-enter the supply chain.

All operational sawmilling, wood processing operations, lumberyards and timber dealers must be licensed annually by the GFC and hence will have to conform to the requirements for forest legality as established by the GFC. Relevant information on all timber products entering a sawmill or lumberyard must be recorded on a Sawmill/Lumberyard record of produce received/purchased/supply register which must record the transport document type (e.g. Removal Permit, Private Property Declaration, Bill of Sale) and number, source, species, type of produce and volumes. Relevant information on all processed timber products must be recorded on a Return of lumber sawn and lumber produced Form or Return of log sawn and log produced Form. Sales of sawn lumber must be recorded on a Wood product sales Form and a monthly declaration must be made. A Bill of Sale must be issued to any buyer and the invoice number recorded on the Wood product sales Form.

Exporters seeking to export forest produce from Guyana must first apply to export forest products via completion of an “Application for Export of Forest Produce” form and a “Timber Marketing Certificate”. Timber products to be exported must be graded by a GFC licenced independent grader. Once the GFC is in receipt of the TMC application, and is informed that the produce has been graded, a GFC Grading Inspector does a 100 % verification of the grades assigned by the independent grader. Once the GFC Grading Inspector is satisfied that the forest produce meets the necessary quality standards, the TMC is then issued to the exporter, who then can apply for an Export Certificate. This EC is prepared by the Exporter and is for products already inspected and certified by the GFC. All exporters or their agents seeking to export goods must fill and submit a Customs Declaration, which is to be stamped by the GFC. Once the Exporter has paid an export commission, if payable, to the GFC, the Exporter forwards all authorised documents (Customs declaration, Export certificate and Commercial invoice) to the Customs, Excise and Trade Operation unit of the Revenue Authority

CITES Certificate of Origin is required for the export logs, lumber or veneer sheets of Red (Spanish) Cedar (Cedrela odorata), which is listed on CITES Appendix III. Any person who proposes to import, export, re-export or introduce any CITES listed animal or plant or specimen from the sea shall before commencing any action related thereto, apply to the CITES Management Authority, the Wildlife Conservation and Management Commission, for a permit or certificate.