Raising awareness about timber legality among Indigenous Communities in Guyana


The Guyana Forestry Commission (GFC), as the lead agency in the Voluntary Partnership Agreement between Guyana and the European Union, has partnered with relevant government agencies to strengthen legal compliance in line with the requirements set out in the VPA. The  requirements make it compulsory for all commercial operators, including indigenous communities, to present evidence of legal compliance. Communities, however, have struggled to do this, due to difficulties understanding legal jargon, lack of access to information and limited financial resources. To address this, the FAO-EU Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade (FLEGT) Programme has supported GFC to assist 23 indigenous communities engaged in commercial logging to better understand and implement the regulations in place.

Legality compliance made accessible

The Guyana Forestry Commission will deliver targeted trainings to community members on national labour laws, income tax requirements, social security requirements, environmental laws, forest management practices, as well as on wood tracking system requirements, all which are established within Guyana’s Timber Legality Assurance System (GTLAS).

The training activities will include officials from relevant government agencies tasked with monitoring compliance with regulations to facilitate communication with affected Amerindian communities engaged in commercial logging. Financial constraints limit the ability of agencies to independently conduct community trainings; thus, the project will benefit both indigenous communities and VPA agencies.

The  23 training sessions, gathering some 300 loggers and community leaders, will enable loggers to initiate National Insurance Scheme (NIS) and Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA) registration processes and the EPA application process  by filling in the necessary  forms during the trainings, guided by the relevant government officials present.

Generally, community members are expected to travel to centralized locations for this kind of administrative task, dramatically affecting the number of members which completed the registration process. By allowing community loggers to initiate on-the-spot registration procedures, the first step towards legality, the project promotes legality amongst Forest Sector Operators ” stated Simone Benn, Assistant Commissioner of Forests - Community Administration.

Expanding the benefits and reach of legality

As a result of the trainings, communities will expand administrative networks and establish direct communication with the relevant government officials, creating a mentoring system through which communities can receive legal  and administrative guidance beyond the duration of the project.

The project is expected not only to increase timber legality at the national level but also to improve the long-term livelihoods of local indigenous community members through better and more responsible use of forest resources. Furthermore, by registering with the NIS, operators may have access to health insurance in the event of accidents or illnesses.

Women and and youth will make up  30 percent of the project beneficiaries. This is particularly salient given the prominent role these groups play in the sustainable management of forest resources within village lands.  By enabling local stakeholders to implement national legality commitment, the activities will help preserve forests and protect the livelihoods of people who depend on them.

Since 2016, the Programme has supported 14 projects in Guyana, amounting to approximately USD 850 000.

The FAO-EU FLEGT Programme of the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations is a global demand-driven initiative that provides technical support and resources for activities that further the goals of the EU’s FLEGT Action Plan. The Programme is funded by the European Union, the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency, and the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office of the United Kingdom.

For more information:

FAO-EU FLEGT Programme

FAO-EU FLEGT Programme in Guyana

Guyana Department of Public Information Press Release