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Guyana Forestry Commission



Guyana is situated on the north-eastern coast of South America between 1_and 9_ N Latitude and 56_ and 61_W Longitude. The country has a population of approximately 800 000 people and an area of 214 970 km2. There is a coastline of 435 km and a depth north to south of 870 km.

Coastal and Interior flood plains comprise 16.6% of the total land area. Sand plateaux and gently sloping plains are characterized by pure white and brown sand areas or very sandy or gravely soils, some with clay sub soils, and found on 25% of the total area. The white sand plateaux -typical of the Guyana shield are mostly on a contour line of 150 m above sea level and are found in layers up to 60 m deep. Hilly or rolling uplands form 34.3% of the total land area with loamy soils, reddish clay soils with formations of lateritic ironstones and sandy or gravely soils in steep areas. Shallow or rocky soils of different origin are to be found in steep areas in the mountains and high plateaux and account for 16.8% of the total land area.

Guyana lies in the tropical convergence zone and experiences a climate with two wet seasons and a two dry seasons, as follows:

Precipitation varies from 1 200 mm to 2 800 mm in the southern part of the country; from 1 600 mm to 2 800 mm in the coastal area; and up to 4 400 mm in the Pakaraima Mountains. Monthly mean maximum temperatures vary between 26_C and 32_C with an absolute maximum of about 36_C. Monthly mean minimum temperatures vary between 19.5_C and 24_C with an absolute minimum of about 16_C.


History of forest utilisation

Commercial utilisation of the forests began in the early 1600s with trade in Letterwood timber. Letterwood (Piratinera guianensis) is a high value species. The wood is very hard and it has an attractive appearance so is used as inlay for high quality furniture and nowadays for the dashboards of luxury vehicles.

From the 19th century Greenheart was produced as hewn squares for marine applications and Balata, the latex of the Bulletwood (Manilkara bidentata) tree, was tapped and sold for processing into rubber. The main areas for timber extraction were along the banks of the Essequibo, Demerara, Pomeroon and Berbice rivers. Sawmilling began with two steams driven mills in Georgetown and a water powered mill at Christianburg on the Demerara River. The dry forests south of Georgetown were heavily exploited for fuelwood and charcoal and mangrove forests were harvested for fuelwood and for bark for tanning.

Logs and timber

Timber production is the most important forest based industry in terms of employment and income generation. The timber industry developed during 1900s with a number of mediums sized companies producing mostly Greenheart for export and a small range of other species for local use. This changed in 1956 with the large investment by the Commonwealth Development Corporation to establish British Guiana Timbers with a logging operation at Wineperu and a large export sawmill based at Houston in Georgetown.

Demerara timbers limited

In 1984 the Government of Guyana established Demerara Woods Limited at Mabura Hill and was privatized in 1991 and renamed Demerara Timbers Limited (DTL), and awarded three 25-year timber sales agreements, automatically renewable for a further 25 years, on land totalling 552 000 hectares.

In December 1992, DTL estimated that by 1995, production at the company's Mabura sawmill would reach 200 000 m3 per year and could rise to as high as 500 000 m3 per year by 2000. By May 1994, the sawmill was processing 80 000 cubic meters of timber per year with a maximum capacity of 240 000 m3 per year. DTL's goal was to log the entire concession in twenty years - approximately 27 600 hectares per year even though a much longer cutting cycle is probably needed for even basic sustained yield management. DTL took steps to demonstrate its advertised "green" approach to harvesting tropical timber by widely publicizing its Green Charter (which stressed environmentally sound logging practices) and contracting with SGS Silviconsult Ltd. To inspect a representative sample of the concession. Silviconsult issued a preliminary certificate valid for one year starting in June 1994 stating that the timber was cut in an environmentally sound manner.

Primegroup is now replacing the milling equipment at the Mabura sawmill. Kilns and molders will be added to promote use of a wider range of species. The new sawmill would have a log input capacity of 10 000 m3 per month. A plywood factory may also be built.

Barama company limited

A further phase of investment began in 1992. Barama Company Limited was granted a 1.6 million-hectare concession outside the Greenheart belt and in forest previously considered non-commercial. Sixteen main species are currently harvested from this concession, primarily for the production of plywood. Logs are extracted to Port Kaituma and then transported by barge to Barama's plywood mill in Georgetown. Barama's annual production of 200 000 m3 represents more than 40% of the total national log harvest.

UNAMCO and case timbers

This company has leases for 237 000 acres in the Upper Berbice. Case/UNAMCO recently announced that with US$20 million of new Malaysian capital they would build a sawmill with a capacity to produce 4 500 m3 of sawnwood each month and employ 550 people.

In total, there are 26 long term concessions operational covering 4.2 million hectares and producing 300 000 m3 of logs per annum. These concessions are required to operate under forest management plans approved by the Guyana Forestry Commission and to comply with operational standards for harvesting developed by the Commission.

Production of logs and chainsawn lumber under small-scale annual permits has increase significantly in recent years. Annual permit holders are not required to prepare management plans and their operations are largely unregulated. Commercial timber resources in the more accessible forest areas have become depleted so new regulatory measures are being introduced to bring these operations under control.

The Forestry Commission collects revenue from concessions. Revenue is collected in two forms; as an acreage fee charged annually based on the area of land that is covered by the concession or permit, and as a royalty based on the volume of timber harvested by the concession holder.


Guyana has a total land area of 21.5 million hectares and of this forests cover 76% or 16.5 million hectares. Major types of forests include swamp forests along the coast, rain forest, seasonal forest and dry forest in the interior. The forests join those of the Brazilian Amazon basin to the south and with the Guiana shield forests of Suriname to the east. This vast forest area has extremely high conservation and ecological value and has been described by the World Resources Institute as `frontier forests'; large intact forest ecosystems of global significance.

The most important forest type commercially is the rainforest, which extends from the north-west through to the south of the country. The composition of the rainforest changes considerably over this range. In the north-west large trees with low wood density makes them suitable for manufacture into plywood. The most commonly occurring species in the north- west is Baromalli (Catostemma spp.), which makes up 40% of the volume of timber that is currently extracted for plywood.

Further east and south, Greenheart (Chlorocardium rodiei) becomes a major species. Greenheart has a very high wood density that makes it resistant to attack by marine borers, has long been valued as piling for wharves and other marine applications. The range of greenheart is limited mostly to central Guyana. There is no Greenheart in the north-west or the very south of the country and there are only a few trees found in Suriname.

In the south of the country there are 5 million hectares (37% of State Forest) that have not yet been allocated for timber harvesting. This is because the higher value species such as Greenheart and Baromalli do not occur in the south, and because the long distances to market makes the commercial exploitation of these forests uneconomic.

The second major forest type, the dry evergreen forest, are unusual in being frequently dominated by one or two species, the Wallabas (Eperua spp.). These forests, found on nutrient poor sandy sites, are economically important for fuelwood and construction poles.

In 1997 forest based activities contributed 4.5% of Guyana's Gross Domestic Product, generating US$39 million in revenue and providing employment for around 15 000 people. There is also considerable informal and unmeasured employment and economic activity in the sector.

Land area classification of Guyana

Land area classification

Area (km2)


Tropical high forest

168 351


Coastal mangrove forest



Savannah and settlements

35 799


Cultivation and settlements

10 016



214 970


Major forest vegetation types of Guyana

Forest Vegetation Type

Soil Type

Rain forest

Brown sands, loams, red earth

Seasonal forest

White and brown sands, red earth

Dry evergreen forest

White sands and Lateritic (Ironstone, Copper), Hills and Pakaraima Sandstone.

Marsh forest (seasonal swamp)

Alluvial silt, pegasse (peat)

Swamp forest

Alluvial silt

Montane rain forest

Sands, loams, red earth (Southern Upland Region).

Average standing volume per hectare by forest type

Forest Type

All species

Commercially Exploitable Species

Rain forest


22 - 98

Seasonal forest


9 - 134

Dry evergreen forest


6 - 27

Marsh forest


9 - 125

Swamp forest


13 - 125

Montane forest


22 - 90

Ownership of the forest

The Guyana Forestry Commission is responsible for the management of an area 13.6 million hectares classified as State Forest. The remainder of the forested area is either State Land, Amerindian Land or private property.

Land allocation within the state forest (December 1998)




% of State Forest

% Total Land Allocated

Production Areas


State forest permission (SFP)


593 202



Wood cutting leases (WCL)


488 824



Timber sales agreements (TSA)


3 703 465



SFP conversion areas


1 015 435



Exploratory permit


140 193




Permanent research areas

Iwokrama research site


360 000



Moraballi reserve


11 650



Other research sites


3 102




Protection and biodiversity reserves

Kaiteur national park


112 322




Total allocated land


6 428 193



Total unallocated land

7 250 461



State forest land


13 678 654




Production of forest products in Guyana 1994 - 1999













70 101

62 596

70 217

79 030

78 617

54 923

Other Species


319 540

362 894

346 117

442 449

308 056

295 786

Total Logs


389 641

425 490

416 334

521 479

386 673

350 709



Greenheart Piles


6 623

9 210

11 908

6 223

11 358

8 740

Kakaralli Piles








Wallaba Poles


2 154

2 317

3 398

4 694

3 856

4 866



4 959

5 817

6 065

5 403

3 437

9 418








2 573

Total Roundwood


14 474

18 326

22 016

17 220

19 454

25 863

Chainsaw Lumber


29 832

41 823

38 255

32 378

23 638

194 193



Paling Staves


2 708

2 794

2 434

2 128

1 475

7 864

Vat Staves















3 249

Total Splitwood


2 793

2 960

2 452

2 156

1 597

11 214

Fuel Wood




1 717 687

1 516 092

1 098 242

596 483

460 864

152 429



8 278

6 450

6 323

2 685

2 888

2 152

Sawmill Production


47 170

58 962

58 962

56 604





57 200

96 258

98 055

67 223

76 059

63 839




7 977

10 513

2 845

9 884

5 251

3 225

Mangrove Bark


22 730

25 002

10 864


35 762


Manicole Palm


5 946 633

6 190 456

6 699 479

6 625 749

6 936 983

3 167 745

Timber production

Timber production incorporates all produce made from timber. In this report it includes the production of logs, roundwood, chainsaw lumber, splitwood, fuelwood, sawmill lumber and plywood.

Seasonal production patterns

Production of timber products is seasonally affected by weather, availability of labour (low over the Christmas period), holiday periods in June, seasonality in demand and so on. Seasonal adjustment allows us to isolate those changes in log production that are `real' in the sense of having occurred for reasons other than seasonality.

Log production

Total log production in 1999 was 295 786 m3 with 54 923 m3 as Greenheart (Chlorocardium rodiei) production and the remainder as other log species. Other species include Baromalli (Catostemma spp.), Ulu (Trattinickia spp.), Purpleheart (Peltogyne spp.), Kabukalli (Goupia glabra), Mora (Mora excelsa) etc. Together with Greenheart these five species accounted for 90.7% of the total log production in 1998. However, Baromalli is by far the most predominant, accounting for 46% of total log production in 1998. Baromalli is the major peeler species used in the production of plywood. Total log production fell by 26% from the 1998 level of 386,673.

The fall in log production is primarily due to a fall in the production of species other than Greenheart. This would suggest that during that year the market for Greenheart products (marine construction etc) remained stable whereas the end uses of the other species was depressed by the international and domestic factors mentioned above. In other words the demand for Greenheart is relatively inelastic, with few substitute species. Whereas other species are more price responsive and have more substitutes. The production of other species includes those species used in sawmilling and in the production of plywood, i.e. the demand for (Baromalli) plywood is more price elastic than the demand for greenheart `products'.

Roundwood production

Roundwood production totalled 25 863 m3 in 1999 compared with 19 454 in 1998. The increase was due totally to an increase in all other roundwood production, with an exception of Greenheart piles, which had a declined in 1999. Greenheart piles decreased from 8 358 in 1999 to 8 740 in 1998 (accounting for total roundwood production in 1999). Over the five year period 1995 to 1999 there was no trend in production of Greenheart piles as the annual total fluctuates quite substantially between lows of 6 223 m3 and highs of 11 908 m3. Greenheart piles are used both domestically and internationally primarily for marine construction: the end of 1998 saw an increase in production to meet increased demand from New York State for use in marine construction.

Kakaralli piles decreased in production in 1999 from 1998. Wallaba poles, posts and spars all increase in production in 1999 from 1998. Over the five-year period 1995 - 1999 Kakaralli piles production ranged from a low of 266m3 in 1999 to 888m3 in 1995. Production of Wallaba poles totalled 4,866 m3 in 1999, which is in line with the five-year (1995 - 1999) average of 3 826 m3. Wallaba poles are used both domestically and internationally as utility poles. 1999 saw an increase in production of posts to 9 418 m3 from an average of 518 m3 for the four previous years (1995 - 1998). Spars, which are used domestically, amounted to 2 573 m3.

Splitwood production

Total splitwood production increase from 1 607 m3 in 1998 to 11 214 m3 in 1999. Paling staves increased from 1 475 m3 to 7 864 m3 and shingles increased from 122 m3 to 2 249 m3 between 1998 and 1999 respectively. Production of shingles has also fluctuated over the period 1994 - 1999 with a high production in 1999 or 3 044 m3 and a low of 10 m3 in 1996. The decline in the demand for paling staves, which constituted 72% of total splitwood production, is due to a recent change in consumer preferences. Consumers have been demanding more durable fencing materials such as chain link and concrete fencing, which are slowly replacing the old picket fence.

The demand for shingles, however, especially on the export market, increased, resulting in a significant increase in production. Note that shingles production volume is less than its export volume as the GFC statistics only represents declared shingles production from the State forest Production from the shingles mill is not recorded by the GFC.

Fuelwood production

Fuelwood consists of firewood and charcoal. Firewood is classified as a raw material, as no processing is involved, where as charcoal undergoes primary conversion from log to charcoal. The difference in classification implies that although the products are grouped together under fuelwood, the amounts produced cannot be summed. The products are also measured in different units, cords and kilograms for fuelwood and charcoal respectively.

The majority of firewood produced is consumed in steam boilers used in sugar estates and in bakeries throughout the country. Sugar production has two seasons with the first ending in May and the second in December. The remainder is consumed in rural homes as fuel for cooking.

Charcoal production declined to 152 429 kg in 1999 from 460 864 kg in 1998, a fall of 66.9%, and one reason for this was that rural homes are consuming kerosene oil and propose gas. Over the period 1994 to 1999 charcoal production has been declining steeply. In 1994, 17 717 687 kg of charcoal were produced and this has fallen to the 1999 level of 152 429 kg.

Firewood production experienced decrease of 25.5%, in 1999 to 2 152 cords from 2 888 cords in 1997, in response to a decrease in the consumption of firewood on the domestic market.

Chainsaw lumber production

Chainsaw lumber represented here is the production from registered chainsaw operators. Mostly small concessionaires (SFPs) and sawpit license dealers engage in chainsaw operations. In 1999 there were 330 SFP operations (including those SFPs under consideration for conversion to TSA/WCL) in Guyana mostly concentrated in the Demerara region.

Chainsaw lumber suffered a large decline in production from 32 378m3 in 1997 to 23 6387m3 in 1998. However, there was a significant increase in production in 1999 (194 193). The decrease in production is representative of the depressed domestic market reflected in an overall decline in construction activities and increased competition from better quality sawmill lumber and timber substitute products (concrete, brick, Medium Density Fibreboard (MDF) etc.).

Chainsaw lumber provides a cheaper, lower quality, lumber to sawmill lumber. The depressed international markets caused sawmills to sell lumber on the domestic market at competitive prices and thus increasing competition for chainsaw lumber. As time progresses the accessibility of available timber to chainsaw operators, with limited equipment and resources, becomes scarce. The available timber, once on the edge of the main transport routes (rivers and roads) is believed to have been removed and chainsaw operators are being forced to move further into the forest. This is likely to be a key factor behind the decline in chainsaw production.

In addition, the domestic market for sawn lumber has a high degree of illegal chainsaw lumber, which is being provided, to the market at prices, which can undercut the legal chainsaw operators and the sawmillers. Illegal operators are able to undercut prices as they avoid the payment of forest charges, government taxes, have very low overhead costs etc. Illegal operators are displacing legal chainsaw operators and sawmillers from the domestic market. In some cases it has been noted that it is more cost effective for sawmillers and exporters to buy chainsaw lumber (legal and illegal) and dress it for export, rather than fell logs from their own concessions.

Sawmill production

Due to a lack of data for 1998, the production of sawmill lumber is unavailable. However given the market situation, and the resulting decline in the production of logs, it would be appropriate to assume that sawmill lumber declined in 1998. Exports of sawnwood also declined in 1998.

As with chainsaw lumber there has been a decline in production from the peak of 58 962 m3 in 1995, although the decline in sawmill lumber is not as steep as the decline for chainsaw lumber.

Plywood production

Barama Company Limited, Guyana's sole plywood producer has faced both international and domestic market constraints over the year. Domestic labour and log supply problems coupled with international market pressures forced Barama to streamline its operations. Later in the year as log production resumed normality, with plywood prices still depressed, Barama exported logs to the Asian markets in order to reduce the stockpiles of logs that were accumulating.

Barama was granted a Timber Sales Agreement in 1991 and started production in 1993. By 1996 plywood production had reached a high of 98 055 m3 from 17 200 m3 in 1993. However the Southeast Asian crisis, which took effect in the idle of 1997 triggered by the devaluation of the Thai baht in July 1997, resulted in plywood production falling back to 67 223 m3 in 1997. The downward market pressure of the international financial crisis continued into the first half of 1998. However by the end of the year the market showed signs of recovery then a decline by 16% (63 839 m3) in plywood production in 1999.


Non-wood forest products

There are a number of resources other than timber in the forests of Guyana. These resources are called Non-Timber Forest Products (NTFPs) and include latex, lianas, palms, herbs, wildlife and recreation. The Guyana Forestry Commission monitors the production of NTFPs from the State forest, including Amerindian reserves and villages. However the production statistics presented here do not include production from Amerindian reserves and villages. The NTFPs that are monitored by GFC are wattles, manicole palm, mangrove bark and balata production. GFC maintains a key interest in other NTFPs such as wildlife and ecotourism as they play an integral part in forest management. Below, production trends are given for wattles, mangrove bark and manicole palm. The declared production of balata from within the State forest has been nil since 1988, although it is still produced from areas outside of the State forest boundary.

Manicole palm

Manicole palm is the most important commercial non-timber forest product. Palm hearts are harvested from a concession in the north-west of 50 000 hectares and by Amerindians from their own lands and sold to a processing facility based on the Barima River. The palm heart is processed and canned for sale to mostly European markets as a luxury food item. Annual removals of palm hearts are more than 6.6 million stems. Resource surveys and studies into species ecology is required to ensure that operations are sustainable.


Wattles are mainly used in agricultural/farming activities as props for supporting young plants. Wattles are saplings less than 3 inches (approximately 8cm) in diameter and are measured in pieces.

Wattle production totalled 3 251 pieces for 1999, representing a decline of 61.9% relative to 1998.

Production of wattles has fluctuated quite markedly over the period 1994 to 1999 with a peak production of 10 513 pieces in 1995 and a low of 2 845 pieces in 1996. However during the period 1988 to 1992, production was less than 2 000 pieces annually. From 1993 there was a marked increase in the production of wattles to the peak in 1995.

Mangrove bark

Mangrove bark is used in the leather craft industry for the tanning of leather. The Guyana Forestry Commission does not monitor mangrove bark, which is produced outside of the State forest boundaries.

Production of mangrove bark totalled 56 889 kgs for 1999. There was no declared production of mangrove bark in 1997. However production in 1998 was substantially higher than the 10 864 kgs produced in 1996 and the 25 002 kgs in 1995. The increase of declared mangrove bark production is due to an increase in the demand for mangrove bark used in the manufacturing of leather accessories.

Wildlife trade

The wildlife trade is significant, with Guyana being the fifth largest exporter of wild birds in the world. Wildlife trade is controlled internationally by the Convention on the Trade of Endangered Species (CITES). Before wildlife exports from Guyana or any other country are accepted by the importing country they must be accompanied by a CITES permit issued by the Wildlife Department. These permits confirm that the species being traded is not endangered and that the amount of wildlife being exported is not depleting animal populations in the wild. Considerable research is required to allow Guyana to establish quotas for individual species based on population and biological information and to monitor wildlife populations to conform to these requirements.

Charcoal production

Harvesting of Wallaba forest for charcoal production has been an important industry in the past. As a result, large areas of Wallaba forest south of Georgetown and surrounding Linden are degraded. Charcoal was exported to the Caribbean, but since 1980 this market has diminished. Current annual production is 1000 tonnes which is primarily for domestic consumption, though a new operation is developing markets in the United Kingdom.


The balata industry (the commercialization of the latex of Manilkara spp.) started in 1850 and was a major industry in Guyana until about 1930 when the Government was forced to place a ban on the harvesting of the species in order to prevent its probable extinction. There is still considerable potential for the development of the product.

Watershed protection and management

Guyana has only one protected area, the Kaiteur National Park with an area of 112 322 ha or less that 0.8% of the forest estate. The proposed National Protected Areas System Project funded by GEF will assist the Government of Guyana with the establishment of a representative system of protected areas, which will also conserve globally important biological diversity. The project will establish an independent Protected Areas Commission and initiate the process of establishing a protected areas system by identifying and supporting the management and development of two pilot areas. The system will contribute to ecosystem and biodiversity conservation, watershed protection, and the maintenance of the country's cultural heritage. Project components include the design and identification of a Protected Areas System and selection of protected areas; supporting the management and development of two pilot areas; institutional strengthening and training; legislation and policy development and the identification of long term sources of financing.

The Tropenbos-Guyana Programme began in 1989. The objective of this programme is to :

achieve an understanding of the lowland tropical rain forest ecosystems in the area to such a degree that timber harvesting (and possible other non-wood forest products) under a sustainable forest management system can be achieved, while at the same time a satisfactory level of biological diversity is maintained and an appropriate area of rainforest can be conserved.

To achieve this objective the programme includes forest management oriented research and training programmes. Notable contributions include a range of technical publications.

The Iwokrama International Centre for Rain Forest Conservation and Development is responsible for the management, conservation and sustainable development of 360 000 hectares of tropical rain forest, which the Government of Guyana dedicated to the international community to demonstrate that tropical forests can provide economic benefits without destroying biodiversity. The mission of Iwokrama is to:

promote the conservation and the sustainable and equitable use of tropical rain forests in a manner that will lead to lasting ecological, economic and social benefits to the people of Guyana and to the world, by undertaking research, training and the development and dissemination of technologies.


Organizational framework of the national institutions involved in forest administrations

The President is the Minister responsible for Forestry, the Environment and for Natural Resources. There are two statutory bodies responsible for coordinating developments in the natural resources sectors:

A Cabinet Sub-Committee on Natural Resources and Environment. This Committee discusses all matters requiring policy decisions before being presented to the full Cabinet.

A Natural Resources and Environment Advisory Committee (NREAC) which includes the Commissioners of Forestry, Geology and Mines and Lands and Surveys, the Head of the Guyana Natural Resources Agency, the Heads of the Energy Agencies, the Land Use Planning Unit, the Institute of Applied Sciences and Technology, the Hydromet Department and the Director of the Environmental Protection Agency. This committee meets every week and is chaired by the Presidential Adviser on Science, Technology and the Environment.

The Presidential Adviser is responsible for the coordination of the work of the individual agencies involved in Natural Resources and the Environment.

The Guyana Natural Resources Agency has responsibility to formulate policy guidelines and planning frameworks for the development, exploitation and management of natural resources so as to ensure maximum benefits to the people of Guyana.

The Guyana Forestry Commission (GFC) was created in 1979 out of the pre-existing Forest Department which had its origins 1n 1925. The GFC is responsible for advising the Minister and making submissions on issues relating to forest policy, forestry laws and regulations. The Commission is also responsible for administration and management of all State Forest land. The work of the Commission is guided by a national forest plan that has been developed to address the forest policy. The Commission also develops and monitors standards for forest sector operations, develops and implements forest protection and conservation strategies, oversees forest research, and provides support and guidance to forest education and training.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) was established in 1996 to provide for the management, conservation, protection and improvement of the environment, the prevention or control of pollution, the assessment of the impact of economic development on the environment and the sustainable use of natural resources. The EPA has entered into a Memorandum of Understanding with the Guyana Forestry Commission that provides for cooperation in the assessment and monitoring of Environmental Impact Assessment. Before any operation can commence in a forest concession the company must submit an Environmental Impact Assessment for approval by the EPA and the GFC.

The Forest Producers Association was formed by the forest industry to promote and develop the interests of the forest sector and to collaborate on activities such as training, information, public awareness and institutional development. The association is a member of the Public Sector Commission.

The Guyana Forestry Commission Support Project commenced in 1995 and is funded by the UK Department for International Development. The purpose of the project is to enable the GFC to effectively fulfil functions in support of sustainable, ecologically sound and socially integrated forest management systems. The goal is to optimize the economic and environmental goods and services from Guyana's forests for the benefit of all communities. Project output will include a revised national forest policy and law; strengthened GFC structure and functioning; strengthened GFC procedures and capabilities; strengthened forest sector training capacity and improved forest information systems.

The Natural Resources Management Project, funded by the German Government, is designed to ensure that decision making for natural resources management is based on improved information. The project will develop a database on natural resources, establish land use planning procedures, prepare policy guidelines and legislation for natural resources management and strengthen institutional capacity.

Procedures to grant forest concessions

Forest Concessions are allocated under three categories based on area and contractual length, and they also carry differing contingencies as set out in the Code of Practice for responsible forest operations. These Categories are:

_ State Forest Permission - granted on an annual basis for area up to 20 000 acres of State Forest;

_ Wood Cutting Lease - granted on a 3 - 10 years lease for areas of 20 000 - 60 000 acres of State Forest;

_ Timber Sales Agreement - granted on a lease for 20 years or more for an area of 60 000 acres or more.

Procedure for Issuing wood cutting lease (WCL) and timber sales agreement (TSA)

Before a WCL or TSA is issued, an exploratory period of 3 years to get all the necessary information for preparation of an investment proposal, environmental and social impact assessment and a forest management plan. This requires an Exploratory Permit. The exploratory permit process has been developed to ensure that proposed investment is in the national interest and is designed to achieve maximum beneficial use of the forest resource. The permit does not convey the right to harvest or remove any forest produce or to construct roads, buildings or other infrastructure. Permission may be granted to fell and remove forest produce for research purposes only. The following are the stages prior to the granting of a WCL or TSA:

Application for an exploratory permit.

Application is evaluated and recommendation made to the board.

Permit is issued detailing conditions.

Exploratory operations are monitored

An environmental impact assessment including environmental management plan is prepared.

A forest management plan is prepared

Application for a forest concession is prepared and submitted to GFC with environmental management plan and forest management plan.

Indigenous peoples issues

Forests are an integral part of Amerindian culture. Today approximately 40 000 Amerindians occupy and have legal title to some 1.4 million hectares of land, much of which is forested. Forest resources are important to Amerindians for food, medicines, building materials, fibres for textiles and weaving and tannins and dyes. As well as wildlife, fruit, seeds and nuts are gathered for food. Medicines are obtained from more than 130 plants species. Some communities have undertaken commercial harvesting of the resource. The Guyana Forestry Commission provided communities with technical and commercial advice and is trying to introduce greater consultation between the large timber companies and local communities (mainly Amerindians) that live either within or adjacent to their license area.

The creation of a Ministry of Amerindian Affairs in 1992 has allowed for a better participatory role for indigenous peoples in national events. Most local communities participate in national development through an institution called Regional Democratic Councils within the Ministry of regional Development.

Status of national discussions on criteria and indicators for sustainable forest management

The forestry sector has participated in the development of the amazon Cooperation Treaty (ACT), "Criteria and indicators for the sustainability of the Amazon forest". Guyana Forestry Commission and sector staff attended a national workshop held in Georgetown in February 1999.

The ACT criteria and indicators, together with those produced by the Centre for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) and the ITTO, have been reviewed by the Guyana Forestry Commission during the preparation of the National Forest Plan. Actions required by the sector have been identified for all appropriate indicators and these have been incorporated into the Plan.

A new Division has been established within the Guyana Forestry Commission that is responsible for sector policy and planning. The Planning and Development Division will oversee implementation of the National Forest Plan and monitor and report on selected indicators.

Thoughts and opinions towards certification initiatives or green labelling

National standards

The Guyana Forestry Commission has secured funding from the UNDP to assist the development of national standards for certification. These will be based on the Code of Practice. The process will include participation from FSC and other accreditation agencies. The objective is standards that comply with all criteria and indicators. The process will also seek to involve and develop the interest of potential local certification agencies so that certification services become available at acceptable cost to producers.

UNDP funding has also been made available for a comprehensive study of existing harvesting operations to determine the main obstacles to improved forest management and certification. The results of this study will be used to design further interventions that may be required to assist the introduction of sustainable forest management systems.


Three broad objectives have been identified:

_ increase the economic benefits that Guyana derives from its forests and associated natural resources;

_ improve the sustainability of Guyana's forest-based sector;

_ spread the benefits of forest-based development to Guyana's rural areas in a participatory way.

To establish common ground in the participatory process and to facilitate the appropriate follow-up actions, the following detailed objectives have been defined:

_ increase income, employment and foreign exchange generated by the existing wood products manufacturing operations, by improving production management, quality control and value added manufacturing;

_ establish a policy framework for concessions that makes them long enough to be consistent with sustainable harvesting, collects royalties that are consistent with the true value of the resource, dimensions their sizes more appropriately, and protects the rights of and enforces the obligations of investors in a transparent and predictable manner;

_ develop an integrated and coherent national programme of training, involving institutions at various levels, and link training with all ongoing research programmes;

_ develop programmes to capture more economic value from forests through non-timber forest products, nature tourism and bio-prospecting;

_ develop the marketing capabilities to use a wider range of species, particularly the dense, heavy hardwoods that predominate in Guyana's forests;

_ establish the facilities and mechanisms that will allow the local forest products industry access to equity capital and commercial loans with longer terms (10-30 years) and internationally competitive interest rates for private investments in infrastructure, harvesting and manufacturing needed to implement sustainable forest management programmes;

_ develop the capacity of GFC and organized producers to work cooperatively towards expanding the sector in ways that are environmentally sustainable and economically self-sustaining, involving NGOs where appropriate;

_ through modern land use planning techniques, define and legally demarcate Amerindian lands and their buffer zones, protected areas, agricultural settlement areas and mining areas;

_ improve access to, and social infrastructure in, strategically selected hinterland areas.


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