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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.