Legal rights to harvest
Logging in the national forest estate is now defined (in addition to the forestry code), by decree no. 2019-980 of 27 November 2019 on logging in the rural area. Any natural or legal person that is legally constituted has the right to perform forestry activities under the condition of being authorised by the competent Administration and only in the areas authorised for forestry exploitation in accordance with the provisions set by the forestry code and subsequent texts without distinction of nationality or capital that is entirely Ivorian (for companies).
The 2019 forestry code identifies several different categories of forest, including a new category: the agro-forest, where agricultural activities and forestry activities will coexist. Prior to the 2019 Forestry Code, logging was carried out in the forest estates of private law entities and individuals, through the perimeters of forest exploitation (PEF - périmètres d’exploitation forestière), in the rural area, which always represent the production area of the vast majority of the country's timber. These PEFs –granted by the Ministry of Water and Forests - are managed by private concessionaires (and include a transitional period following the new provisions of the Forestry Code of 2019).
The terms under which logging is to be carried out in the national forest estate have been set (as indicated above) by decree no. 2019-980 of 27 November 2019. A draft decree specifying how logging is to be carried out in the forests of legal persons of private law, individuals and trees outside the forest is being prepared. This draft proposes a transitional period for the granting of PEFs. This draft will allow for a transitional period for the allocation of PEFs, the duration of which is under discussion among the stakeholders. The private sector is proposing ten (10) years, while the other stakeholders, mainly civil society, are proposing a period not exceeding five (5) years. This decree, once issued, will fill a legal vacuum with regard to the modalities of timber harvesting in the rural domain. It will then reinforce the existing legislation.
At the end of the proposed transitional period, the Ministry of Water and Forests will no longer be able to grant PEFs. Thus, logging in the forests of private individuals will be done on the basis of an agreement between them and the logger. However, the MINEF remains the guarantor of the management of the national forest estate, notwithstanding the registration of the land on which the forests are located by the owners.
The National Forest Domain is defined in article 18 of the Forest Code as follows:
- Forest estates belonging to legal entities governed by public law;
- Forest estates belonging to legal entities governed by private law;
- Forest estates belonging to natural persons
The conditions for logging within Agro-Forests and Classified Forests in the State's private domain and in territorial Communitie
The Agro-forests and classified forests of the State and local communities' private domain are logged as part of managed concessions. In Agro-forests and classified forests of the State and local communities' private domain, logging is carried out in accordance with the management plan, the specifications and the technical standards defined by the forest administration.
Logging quotas are established by the forest administration on the basis of, among other things:
- A forest inventory that is less than two years old;
- The minimum density threshold to be reached to ensure the regeneration of the ligneous resource, calculated on the basis of the results of the forest inventory;
- The minimum harvestable diameter.
The conditions for logging in forests belonging to private legal entities and natural persons
Logging in forests belonging to legal entities governed by private law and natural persons shall be carried out in accordance with the simplified management plan or the management plan and the technical standards established by the forest administration. The harvesting of timber for domestic use in forests belonging to legal entities governed by private law and natural persons or in community forests shall be carried out freely by the owner, in keeping with sustainable forest management and any provisions pertaining to protected species.
The 2019 Forestry Code requires that forests be registered in the name of their owners (legal entities under public law, private law and natural persons). The registration of forests will make it possible to identify the owners of forests and thus avoid possible conflicts related to the ownership of the tree and the forest, and also to settle problems pertaining to responsibility. In the long term, and in the rural domain, PEFs (in their current format) will disappear, to be replaced by individual or collective forest properties, which will be subject to negotiations between loggers and the forest owners.
Logging is subject to the obtaining of a logging permit, depending on the forest area. Since management concessions are specific, several types of logging permits will be generated. Every logging company is required to obtain an approval issued by the Ministry in charge of forests, and this approval is granted for a fee. The conditions and cost of this approval are determined by regulation.