14.I The Forest Lands

14.I.1 About 65,000 square miles (168,000 km2), or more than 75%, of Guyana's total land area, are forested.

14.I.2 Some 13.58 million hectares of the country's total forest area lie within the gazetted State Forest boundaries, where all commercial timber exploitation occurs. There have, however, been excisions from this block of land for Amerindian communities, the Iwokrama Rain Forest Reserve, and mining leases.

14.I.3 Although many of the plant and animal species which abound in Guyana's forests are as yet unidentified, it is known that the forests are a most significant reservoir of biodiversity. In addition, the forests provide important services to the country's inhabitants: they protect the soil from erosion; they regulate and purify the nation's water supplies; and, perhaps of greatest importance, they ensure environmental stability.

14.I.4 In addition to the services which the forests offer, and the wood which they yield for housing and industry, they are a source of non-timber forest products, the commercialisation of which could also greatly assist in the country's social and economic growth and development. Indeed, the forest resources of the country, taken as a whole, can play an important role in transforming and developing the relatively uninhabited hinterland of Guyana. This is especially so because the forest industry sector possesses characteristics which are capable of providing much of the economic stimulus which Guyana requires at this stage of its development. For example, the capital requirements of the sector range from very low to very high; its technological requirements range from very simple to very sophisticated; and individual forest industries may be either labour- or capital-intensive. Forest industries can, therefore, be accommodated at any stage in the country's social and economic evolution, and are amenable to successful investment by both local and foreign entrepreneurs, and by both the moderately and well endowed financiers.

14.I.5 Furthermore, the amenities which the forests provide, and the richness of their flora and fauna, are important for the enhancement of ecotourism, recreation, and scientific research.

14.I.2 The Forestry Sector Today

Forestry's Contribution To Gross Domestic Product

14.I.2.1 Before 1994, when the effects of the lease granted in 1992 to the Barama Company Limited began to be felt, the contribution of the forests to the country's economic development was negligible. Between 1988 and 1993 forestry contributed just over 2 percent to Guyana's Gross Domestic Product, (GDP). In 1994, however, it jumped to 4.4 percent, and 1999 saw the sector's contribution to the GDP at nearly 8%, the highest level ever attained in the country's history.

Log Production

14.I.2.2 Since 1987 there has been a significant increase in log production from Guyana's forests. The intensity of this increase rose markedly in 1994, when log production reached 420,000 cubic metres and continued through to 1997, when it had grown to 513,000 cubic metres. It is interesting to note that the production of chainsaw lumber, which had been negligible up to the mid-1990s, rose steeply to 41,823 cubic metres in 1995. This kind of production dropped, however, to 38,250 cubic metres in 1996 and to an even lower amount, 32,375 cubic metres, in 1997. Although it is too early to be definitive, it seems that chainsaw lumber production reached its peak in 1995 and is now significantly declining.

Other Products

14.I.2.3 The felling of Manicole Palm (Euterpe edulis) has been reasonably stable between 1994, when production was 5,946,633 stems, and 1997 when 6,625,749 stems were produced. However, there has been a downward trend in Mangrove Bark production over the five-year period between 1993 to 1997. In 1993, 73,400 lbs. were produced. Output fell to 23,950 lbs in 1996 and nothing at all was produced in 1997.

14.I.2.4 The felling of bulletwood trees, from which balata is produced, was restricted in the 1940s to enable a survey to be made to ascertain the frequency of occurrence of the species.

Export Volume and Value

14.I.2.5 Plywood exports assumed increasing importance in 1993, at which time the products of the Barama Company came on stream. In 1993 plywood accounted for only 27 percent of the total volume of timber exports and 39 percent of the total value of these exports. By 1996, however, plywood's contribution to this sub-sector had jumped to 70 percent of its volume and 76 percent of its value. However, because of depressed market conditions in 1997, plywood's share in the exports of wood products dropped sharply to 37 percent of volume and 57 percent of value, and in 1998 it decreased even further. Plywood remains, nevertheless, the biggest single contributor to the country's export of wood products.


14.I.2.6 Employment in the forestry sector increased significantly in the 1990s. Between 1992 and 1996 employment in the sector rose from 11,412 to 15,275. In 1996, 7,450 persons (48.7 percent) were employed in logging, 5,100 (33.4 percent) in sawpits and sawmills, 1,750 (11.5 percent) in plywood manufacturing, 800 (5 percent) in Manicole Palm production and the remainder in other areas such as charcoal and mangrove bark production. Employment in the sector in 1997 was around 16,000 and, by the end of 1998, total employment in forestry had reached 19,000.

14.I.2.7 The largest increases in employment were in plywood and manicole palm production. This is understandable, due to the fact that two foreign companies (one in each industry) began production in 1993 in these areas. As a result, the plywood industry's absorption of labour grew from 80 persons in 1992 to nearly 2,000 in 1999, while that of the manicole palm industry rose from zero in 1992 to about 1,000 in 1999.

Industry Structure and Trends

14.I.2.8 The forest industries sub-sector comprises mainly logging and sawmilling operations. These enterprises may be divided into two groups:

(i) the low capital, labour-intensive activity of small entrepreneurs who sell logs to sawmillers; and

(ii) the medium-to large-scale, capital-intensive logging operations of integrated firms, with their own sawmills and ancillary equipment, in which modern, heavy-duty logging and road building equipment is used.

14.I.2.9 In 1999 there were 85 active sawmills, 70 of which were old, inefficient and required heavy recapitalisation. Not surprisingly, their product recovery rate is low, being on average about 25 percent of capacity productivity. The quality of lumber produced is often poor, but relatively expensive.

14.I.2.10 Although lumber production from formal sawmills has been falling steadily since the late seventies, much of the absolute drop in the domestic consumption of formal lumber has been offset by the rapid increase in the production of chainsaw lumber.

14.I.2.11 Because there are no seasoning or preservation facilities at most of the mills, there has been a definite trend towards the substitution of lumber by imported steel and cement in new construction. The implications of this trend are significant, since they reduce the productivity of the housing sector and increase the country's expenditure on foreign exchange.

Foreign Investments

14.I.2.12 The launching of the plywood operations of the foreign-owned Barama Company in the early 1990s heralded what, in future years, may be seen as a decisive break with the exploitation patterns of the past. The first, and perhaps most significant, difference is the fact that it is not a Agreenheart operation." The species of interest are baromalli (Catostemma fragrans and C. commune). Although plywood manufacture, utilizing mainly baromalli, is not new to Guyana (a small plywood plant with an installed capacity of 5,000 cubic metres per annum having been in operation since the 1980s) the scale of the Barama Company's operation, the integrated nature of the exercise, the relatively high quality of its product, and the sophistication of its equipment make its activities a most unusual and positive development in the sector. At full production the Barama mill will have an output of nearly 240,000 cubic metres per annum. This will mean an almost phenomenal increase in the consumption of baromalli, and other peeler species that were hardly significantly utilized in the past. The remarkable surges in export revenues from plywood manufacture, due almost entirely to Barama's production, have already been emphasised.

Chainsawn Lumber Production

14.I.2.13 A recent trend has been the extensive use of chainsaws for the sawing of logs into lumber at the stump. Although chainsaw lumber operations lead to less environmental damage than conventional logging, the large number of individuals involved and the scattered nature of their activities make monitoring difficult. Moreover, the ability of the Guyana Forestry Commission effectively to manage the forests in the areas in which such conversion operations are prevalent is severely limited. In addition, there is strong evidence that large scale timber wastage occurs in the process. This wastage is compounded by the often poor quality of lumber produced and by the additional costs which are of necessity incurred during the process of re-manufacturing.

Furniture and Millwork

14.I.2.14 There are about ninety joinery establishments in Guyana. These, together with those micro enterprises that produce lumber, millwork, lianes (nibi and kuffa articles), crafts, charcoal and shingles, are fast becoming a most significant source of income and employment. Indeed, in recent years, there has been growing interest in the export of furniture and millwork to the Caribbean, Europe and the USA, and important investments have been made in equipment, technology and training to ensure the accurate and proper finishing of furniture and furniture components. Furniture and millwork exports represent one of the most exciting possibilities for investments in the forestry sector.


14.I.2.15 The domestic market for lumber has historically been very important for the forest industry. So much so that over the past two decades, the domestic consumption of sawnwood has consistently absorbed well over 80 percent of the country's total production. However, the traditional sawmilling industry is losing its share of the market to chainsaw lumber, and wood in general is being replaced to some extent by imported cement. Indeed, both total lumber production and the domestic consumption of lumber from formal sawmills have shown a steady decline since the mid-1970s.

Conclusions about the Forestry Sector Today

14.I.2.16 It cannot be too strongly emphasized that the very much increased contribution which the forestry sector is making to the country's Gross Domestic Product is due almost entirely to the introduction of foreign investment, especially by the Barama Plywood Company. It is perhaps true to say, therefore, that much of the newly found buoyancy of the sector depends upon that Company. This cannot be considered a felicitous circumstance. It is therefore essential that investments in the sector be not only increased, but that the sources of such investment be diversified. Moreover, the dependence on only a few export markets ought to be more closely examined.



14.II.1 Outmoded Harvesting Practices

14.II.1.1 Outmoded harvesting practices, which recover an insufficient number of timber species and which require frequent entries to each forest site, adversely affect both the economic and environmental sustainability of the forestry sector. Not only are logging costs inordinately high, but frequently the ecological conditions that are necessary for regenerating the required forest species are not created. Moreover, the often rapid incursions into particular forest areas increase the intensity of damage to the forests. The basic requirement is for harvesting to be based on forest management plans which at one and the same time include not only the optimisation of extraction but also the conservation of the forest ecosystem.

14.II.2 Low Levels of Efficiency

14.II.2.1 Low levels of efficiency in the utilisation of equipment, facilities, personnel and timber are common. Because the royalties that have been charged on felled trees have remained relatively low over the years, many firms have been financially successful, even when operating with very low levels of technical and economic competence. In addition, the scale of Government's interventions in marketing has discouraged market development by the private sector. Furthermore, the relative unavailability of foreign exchange for more than two decades has prevented private investors from upgrading equipment and expanding facilities.

14.II.2.2 The tolerance of Guyanese for low-quality goods has also contributed to the sector's inefficiency. Historically, the average sawmiller was able to sell almost anything which was produced, because of this somewhat uncritical acceptance of shoddy material, and because there are neither formal building codes nor official standards for the timber which is sold locally in Guyana. There was therefore no economic incentive for the production of high-quality goods. Today, however, the traditional producer is beset by several problems: logging costs have increased because timber is not as easily accessible as in the past; much of the equipment used is obsolescent; and most of the personnel are untrained. As a result, production costs have increased. On top of all this, the traditional producer is now obliged to compete with chainsaw lumber producers who, even though they recover a smaller volume of the wood from the trees than conventional timber producers, are more competitive because of their lower overheads. It is not surprising, therefore, that the profitability of traditional timber products has eroded over the years. Although there has been a recent upswing in the production of lumber from sawmills, it is perhaps true to say that it would be difficult to sustain this apparent recovery if steps are not taken to modernise the industry, and enhance the quality of operations through training and the development of value-added capability.

14.II.3 Lack of Skills

14.II.3.1 It is generally agreed that although in recent years there has been some improvement, there is still a critical shortage of skilled human resources in the Guyana Forestry Commission. It is also quite evident that the need for skilled personnel is equally critical in the private timber industry itself.

14.II.3.2 The types of training required both by the GFC and private producers are many and varied. Training needs of the GFC relate not only to its major functions as guardian and manager of the forest estate, but also to its role in the conservation of ecosystems and the regeneration of the forest estate. The training requirements of the forest products industry lie in the areas of business management, forest inventorising, forest harvesting, manufacturing and marketing.

14.II.4 Unavailability of Capital

14.II.4.1 Capital, in the amounts required for investments in forest harvesting, manufacturing and marketing, and under the longer terms and conditions that are essential for forest industries, is not available locally. The undeveloped nature of local equity markets coupled with short, non-exclusive and non-tradeable leases, makes it difficult for local firms to use their cutting rights to attract joint venture capital. Loans for working capital and export financing are difficult to obtain from local banks.

14.II.5 Non-timber Products and Services

14.II.5.1 It is important to stress the multiple functions of our forests. They yield not only timber, but also recreational values and non-timber products. Indeed, it should be noted that Amerindians have traditionally used the forests to produce a variety of goods such as plants for medicines, fibres and fruits. This knowledge should provide them with important opportunities for development in ways that are socially and culturally attractive to them. It is surprising that traditional forest producers have not yet taken advantage of the multiplicity of uses of the forests which have been leased to them and have not attempted to combine timber production with, say, the utilisation and sale of lianes for furniture manufacture and the reservation of part of the larger forest leases for eco-tourism.

14.II.6 Land Use Planning

14.II.6.1 Although there has recently been an attempt by the government to prepare a land-use plan for the country, its implementation leaves much to be desired. As a consequence, much land is misused, and conflicts arise in the reconciliation of competing uses. This is especially true for the hinterland of the country where it is expected that many large-scale operations will take place in the future. It is therefore necessary to put in place rules and structures to allocate land for different uses, and to speed up the process of defining permanent production forestry areas, protected areas, Amerindian lands, and mining areas.

14.II.7 Government Investment Policies and Procedures

14.II.7.1 In the past, when there was no requirement for forest management plans, and when there was no insistence on the sustainable management of Guyana's forests, the absence of a comprehensive forest investment policy, though reprehensible, was perhaps excusable. However, the policies and strategies which will be highlighted in this document now demand a concomitant statement of the Government's policies in regard to private investment in the sector. These will be presented later in this chapter and will take into account the fees and royalties which should be paid for the wood raw material and its utilisation; the nature and degree of incentives which should be provided to forest producers; and the provision of a window in the development bank, which is a major element of this National Development Strategy, for local forestry development. The investment policy will, of necessity, embrace the tenurial aspects of forest concessions in so far as they pertain to the provision of finance from commercial banks. Under prevailing conditions, no expenditure on roads and other facilities is being made beyond those that are essential for survival, because there is no security of tenure, and loans for forestry development are not easily obtained from commercial banks.

14.II.8 Regulatory Framework and Monitoring Capacity

14.II.8.1 Chainsaw "milling" has helped in no small measure to stabilize the price of lumber on the domestic market, because its product undersells the lumber produced by established sawmills. In the short run, therefore, it has been beneficial to some consumers. However, unless regulated and adequately monitored, the fast growing number of informal chainsaw milling operations could become a major threat to the development and success of sustainable forest management. Recent efforts to consolidate areas held under smaller and shorter permits into units of more viable size which would be easier to monitor, will have to be continued. In addition, steps would have to be taken to rationalise chain saw lumbering by, for example, confining its activities to specific, more monitorable, areas.

14.II.9 Inability of the Guyana Forestry Commission to Fulfil its Mandate

14.II.9.1 There is need to define precisely the Guyana Forestry Commission's position in the overall governmental or quasi-governmental structure; to delineate the degree of autonomy under which it would operate; and to identify the sources of funding for its activities. The lack of clarity in these areas has resulted in undue interference in the Commission's day-to-day functions and an uncertainty about its over-arching role.

14.II.9.2 Most important, the role of the professional, technical and administrative staff of the GFC must be clearly distinguished from that of its Board.

14.II.9.3 Because the Guyana Forestry Commission is under-manned and ill-equipped it is crucial also that the quantity of staff, at both the professional and technical levels, be increased, and that its quality, in all disciplines, be enhanced. This remains critical even though, in recent years, more personnel have been recruited, the Commission has been restructured, and more citizens are being trained in forestry. This shortage of adequate human resources, in both quantitative and qualitative terms, also prevents the GFC from acting expeditiously on matters of obvious emergency.

14.II.10 Hinterland Development

14.II.10.1 Guyana's history, small population, and the bountiful harvests of sugar and rice that are produced by the fertile soils of the coastal plain, combined with other factors such as difficult access to the country's interior where the forests are located, have resulted in the fact that the hinterland is virtually unknown to most Guyanese, and there is severe overcrowding of the population on the narrow coastland. The difficulties of communicating with the interior, and the virtual absence there of adequate health, educational and other social services, are major obstacles to the sustainable development of the country's hinterland. Indeed, many otherwise viable forestry development projects become prohibitively costly for private firms because, in addition to their normal production costs, they are forced to expend additional financial resources to provide access, transportation and other communication facilities, energy, and such basic social services as education, health and security, to serve not only company settlements but their surrounding areas.

14.II.10.2 It is evident therefore that the development of the forestry sector should not take place in a vacuum. It should be part of a comprehensive plan for the development of the hinterland. If this is done, not only would questions such as the extent of Amerindian lands, the nature and location of protected areas, the provision of transport and social services infrastructure to interior communities, be squarely faced and answered, but the costs of forestry production would inevitably be reduced.

14.II.11 Research

14.II.11.1 The basic requirements for the practice of sustainable management are information on the area of forests and their location, the range of forest types, the composition of the forest by species, the rates of growth of different species under various logging intensities, the synecology of forest ecosystems, and the autecology of species. It is only with this kind of knowledge that limits to the size and species of tree which could be felled might be prescribed, and decisions made with regard to specific areas to be logged, with any hope of sustaining and optimising production, while conserving the forests. Guyana does not possess much of this essential knowledge. A considerable amount of research therefore needs to be undertaken if the goal of sustainable management is to be attained.

14.II.12 Forest Products Association

14.II.12.1 The Guyana Forests Products Association does not play as important a role as it might in the development of the country's forestry sector. The industry itself suffers from a virtual absence of professionally trained and experienced foresters. Not surprisingly, this is reflected in the staff of the Forest Products Association. As a result, the Association is unable to perform the pivotal tasks it should, not only in the furtherance of its own interest but perhaps more important, in increasing the contribution of the forests it exploits to the growth of the economy. Moreover, it has little or no expertise in the conservation of the forest environment through, for example, directional felling and the construction of road networks that are environmentally friendly. The country's forest estate is therefore at risk, and a greater onus and responsibility devolve upon the already burdened Guyana Forestry Commission.

14.II.13 Certification of Exports

14.II.13.1 One constraint to the optimisation of social and economic returns from Guyana's forests is the growing practice by some timber importing countries, under pressure from environmental lobbyists to cease importing tropical timbers, arbitrarily and capriciously, if they are not satisfied that the forests from which the timber is being exploited are being sustainably managed. It is therefore essential that Guyana transparently manages its forests in a sustainable manner, that it ensures that such management practices are understood and appreciated in importing countries, and that it formulates credible and acceptable methods of issuing its own certificates.



14.III.1 The overall objectives for the sector are to:

      1. increase the economic, benefits which Guyana derives from its forests and associated natural resources, and
      2. distribute equitably the benefits of forest-based development to Guyana's rural and interior areas.

14.III.2 The specific objectives are to:

      1. promote sustainable and efficient forest activities, which utilise a broad range of forest resources and contribute to national development, while allowing fair returns to local and foreign entrepreneurs and investors;
      2. achieve improved sustainable forest resource yields while ensuring the conservation of ecosystems, biodiversity, and the environment; and
      3. ensure watershed protection and rehabilitation.



14.IV.1 Land Use

14.IV.1.1 The nation's forest policy will be an integral part of a comprehensive series of land use plans. These plans will recognise the conflicting but legitimate interests of different stakeholders and promote a process of developing a consensus on land use. Accordingly, regional authorities and local communities will be involved in their formulation and approval. They would provide:

(i) guidelines for environmental protection and sustainable resource utilisation;

(ii) a legal framework for resource management;

(iii) national programmes for resource management; and

(iv) an institutional framework for implementing land use guidelines.

14.IV.1.2 Amerindian Councils and private owners with more than 100 hectares of forest land will be encouraged to develop and implement sustainable management plans for forests on their lands. The Guyana Forestry Commission will assist in the preparation of these plans.

14.IV.1.3 Pending the finalisation of a national land use plan, a land use committee, which would serve as a forum for resolving land use conflicts at the institutional level, will be established.

14.IV.2 Forest Management

14.IV.2.1 The ownership of all forest resources, except those on private property and on Amerindian lands, will be vested in the state.

14.IV.2.2 All forests, including those now on State Lands, but with the exception of forests privately held, will be designated State Forests.

14.IV.2.3 All resources of the forests will be managed in a sustainable manner for the optimisation of their social, economic and environmental benefits. The systems of forest management which would be adopted will be designed to conserve biological diversity and its associated values, water resources, soils, and unique and fragile ecosystems and, by so doing, maintain the ecological functions and integrity of the forests.

14.IV.2.4 The first step in the process of ensuring the sustainable management of the nation's forest patrimony would be an assessment of its forest resources. Accordingly, inventories will be undertaken by the Guyana Forestry Commission.

14.IV.2.5 Concessionaires will be required to undertake more detailed inventories for the purpose of formulating and implementing forest management plans. These will be checked and approved by the Guyana Forestry Commission.

14.IV.2.6 Topographic and other relevant surveys will also be conducted, as a matter of priority, by the relevant authorities in order to identify vulnerable ecosystems.

14.IV.2.7 The ecological and economic impact of utilising timber and non-timber forest products will be assessed by the Guyana Forestry Commission in conjunction with the Environmental Protection Agency, and their extraction regulated as appropriate.

14.IV.2.8 Management or operational plans will be required for the harvesting of all non-timber resources of the forests before a licence or permit is issued.

14.IV.2.9 The Guyana Forestry Commission, in association with stakeholders, will develop a Code of Practice, which will contain the monitoring criteria and indicators to be utilised for forest management. The Code will be made available to the public.

14.IV.2.10 A legislative framework will be developed for conflict avoidance and resolution, in relation to the multiple uses of State Forests Resources, without compromising the conservation of ecosystems and species. Moreover, quick response criteria will be established in order to ensure that negotiations are not unduly protracted.

14.IV.2.11 In the absence of conclusive research data, the regenerative capacities of identified forest types and species will be conservatively estimated, taking into account all relevant environmental factors.

14.IV.2.12 Commercial exploitation of the State Forests will be undertaken only under concession agreements. Concession licences and permits will be allocated through a process of advertisement and bidding or tendering.

14.IV.2.13 Concessions will also be granted for forest uses other than timber extraction.

14.IV.2.14 The Guyana Forestry Commission, through its approval and monitoring of management and operational plans and the development and monitoring of the Code of Practice, will be responsible for the regulation of operations in concessions. It will develop a fair and transparent framework for the allocation, revocation, renewal and renegotiation of forest concessions; and it will identify blocks of forests eligible for concessions. These blocks will be of different sizes, in order to provide for investors of different scales.

14.IV.2.15 The Guyana Forestry Commission will also develop a standard agreement so that all concessionaires would operate under the same conditions in regard to fiscal provisions and general forest management requirements.

14.IV.2.16 A form of forest tenure will be developed which would enable forest concessions to be used as collateral for forestry development loans.

14.IV.2.17 Concessions will be audited biennially by the Guyana Forestry Commission in order to ascertain whether the concessionaire is meeting the standards and conditionalities defined in the sustainable management plans, following established guidelines and maintaining production. The duration of the concession will be rolled over for two years, if the required criteria are met. If they have not been met for two consecutive audits, the concession will be abrogated. However, to guard against arbitrary decisions by the GFC, the concessionaire will have the right to appeal to the judiciary.

14.IV.2.18 The Guyana Forestry Commission in conjunction with other stakeholders will develop national standards for Certification. These standards would be the criteria against which timber exported from Guyana would be certified as being extracted from sustainably managed forests.

14.IV.3 Infrastructural Development

14.IV.3.1 Forest harvesting and related infrastructural development in the permanent production forests will be co-ordinated and regulated in accordance with the prescribed forest management plans, to maintain levels of log production that are consistent with the need to safeguard environmental quality and ecological balance. Furthermore, the establishment of primary access roads by concessionaires will be co-ordinated and regulated in accordance with the National Development Strategy, to improve the road infrastructure of Guyana's hinterland.

14.IV.3.2 Forest concessionaires will be compensated, either by being permitted to charge user fees, e.g tolls, or by a reduction in forest fees, or by any other arrangement entered into with the Guyana Forestry Commission at the time of signing concession agreements, whenever the extraction routes which they construct form part of a centrally approved national road network plan, and on condition that the extraction routes are constructed to specific requirements and are maintained to those specifications.

14.IV.3.3 The use of secondary roads by other parties will be regulated by private agreements between the concessionaire and those parties. All roads constructed by the concessionaire will become open to public use once a concession expires or has been taken away by the Government for one reason or another.

14.IV.4 Chainsaw Lumbering

14.IV.4.1 A licensing system for chainsaw operators will be urgently instituted. This would require that those transforming the wood resource to lumber be registered and licensed before operating chainsaws in authorised areas of State Forests. Chainsaw lumbering will be confined to areas that are designated for this purpose by the Guyana Forestry Commission.

14.IV.4.2 Chainsaw operators will be trained in skills that would assist them to achieve operational efficiency and reduce ecological damage during felling, harvesting and lumbering.

14.IV.5 Fiscal Measures

14.IV.5.1 Because the forests of Guyana vary in forest types and regenerative capacity, it would be difficult equitably to prescribe fees for the utilisation of the country's forest resources that are based on the spatial area of concessions. Fees will therefore be charged on the volume of timber felled. The rates charged will be common to all species, no distinction being made among species.

14.IV.5.2 Based on approved forest inventories and forest management plans, concessionaires will be required to extract a minimum volume of timber from their concessions each calendar year. The fees to be charged on this minimum volume will be paid in four tranches. The first installment will be paid at the beginning of each year and would cover the volume planned to be felled in the first quarter. At the end of that quarter, there will be a reconciliation between the amount which had been advanced and the volume actually felled. Further felling will not be allowed unless all outstanding royalties and fees for the assessed quarter had been paid, and unless the second tranche or installment were paid in advance of the operations of the following quarter. The same procedure will be followed for succeeding quarters. If, at the end of any quarter, the lessee has made payments in excess of fellings, the surplus payments will be credited to the upcoming quarter.

14.IV.5.3 All fees will be payable in the official currency of Guyana. The fees charged for the felling of trees will be half of the combined value of the area charges (concession rents) and stumpage fees now levied by the Guyana Forestry Commission. These will be revised upward in five-year periods, so that after the first two revisions, i.e. by 2010, the fees would be equivalent to those prevailing in 1998. Further revisions will be the result of negotiations between the Guyana Forestry Commission and the Guyana Forest Producers Association.

14.IV.5.4 All the fiscal measures adumbrated in this National Development Strategy, will be applicable to the forestry sector. No distinction will be made between local and foreign investors.

14.IV.5.5 A proportion of the fees collected will be retained by the Guyana Forestry Commission, the remaining revenues will be placed in the Consolidated Fund for the use of the people of Guyana. The share of fees allotted to either party will be decided by negotiations between them.

14.IV.5.6 One percent of the fees allocated to the GFC will be placed in a fund for the improvement of the operations of the Guyana Forests Products Association, in order to ensure that some of the constraints which now impede the progress of forestry in Guyana are removed.

14.IV.6 Forest Industries

14.IV.6.1 Priority areas for attracting foreign investment will be the more capital-intensive, higher technology projects, and those that are linked to an overseas marketing network.

14.IV.6.2 Fiscal incentives will be provided to encourage the utilization of logs in downstream activity, i.e., to add value to the product.

14.IV.6.3 The commercial production and processing of non-timber forest resources, such as fibers, latex, oils and fruits will be promoted as an essential element of sustainable forest utilisation.

14.IV.6.4 Through the employment of fiscal measures, financially viable local markets will be developed for Guyana's timber and timber products, with emphasis being placed on the utilisation of lesser-used species.

14.IV.6.5 New technologies for the economic utilisation of timber to broaden and diversify the range of species available, to minimise waste, and to maximise the returns from the conversion of felled trees will be developed jointly by the Guyana Forestry Commission and the Guyana Forest Producers Association, so long as the sustainability of the forests is not impaired. Individual initiative will also be encouraged.

14.IV.6.6 A Policy and Planning Unit will be established within the Guyana Forestry Commission. The unit will, inter alia, collect and disseminate information to both established and potential investors on forestry-related matters, and collaborate with the Guyana Natural Resources Agency.

14.IV.6.7 All commercial processing activities, including those of non-timber resources, will be licensed by appropriate institutions. All processing operations will be classified by their installed capacity.

14.IV.6.8 Existing timber grading rules will be revised and expanded to incorporate other forest products and a wider range of end-uses.

14.IV.6.9 Standard sizes of timber, lumber and other forest products will be developed for various applications by the Guyana Forestry Commission, in consultation with the Forest Products Association, Guyana Manufacturers Association, Bureau of Standards, engineers, architects and the building trade.

14.IV.6.10 The marketing of lesser-used species will be optimised through research and development to identify appropriate processing technologies at various stages of the supply chain: log conversion, storage, machine and tool setting, and post conversion treatment such as preservation and drying.

14.IV.6.11 The Forests Products Association and the Guyana Forestry Commission will be encouraged to establish a Market Research Unit to develop the export trade in wood and other forest products,.

14.IV.6.12 The legal authority now vested in the Guyana Forestry Commission for the overseas marketing and export control of Guyana's timber will be removed.

14.IV.7 Research, Education and Information

14.IV.7.1 A Forest Research Committee will be established to formulate and monitor a national forestry research programme; determine priorities for research and development; advise on the most suitable ways for conducting forestry research; ensure close collaboration with organisations responsible for research in other aspects of land use; and seek and co-ordinate the use of funds for research. Moreover, a National Centre for Research in Forestry will be established. In addition to conventional activities, research into the development of non-timber forest products will be undertaken, with emphasis on the sustainability of the resource.

14.IV.7.2 In order to ensure that adequate financial resources will be available for forestry research and development in Guyana, a fund will be established by the Guyana Forestry Commission.

14.IV.7.3 Training and education in forestry and forestry related disciplines will be provided at all levels and for all types of forestry activities. Wherever relevant, on-the-job training will be given in private mills and in the forests of concessionaires.

14.IV.7.4 The principles of equal opportunity and affirmative action will be applied particularly in respect of

14.IV.7.5 The Board of the Guyana Forestry Commission will establish an Education and Training Sub-committee as the principal agent for the co-ordination of training and education.

14.IV.7.6 Collaborative efforts in forestry education and training will be established between the Forestry Commission and the University of Guyana.

14.IV.7.7 The Forestry Certificate Course at the Guyana School of Agriculture will be developed, strengthened and supported, so that it could meet the needs of the Guyana Forestry Commission, the forest industry sub-sector, and other organisations.

14.IV.7.8 Relationships will be established with all international and overseas-based programmes which operate in Guyana to allow those programmes and their staff to be utilised in the post-graduate training of students of the University of Guyana.

14.IV.7.9 A dedicated Forestry Education and Training Fund will be established by the Guyana Forestry Commission.

14.IV.7.10 National standards will be developed for training, and provision will be made for the monitoring and enforcement of standards. Action will be taken at the instance of the Education and Training Sub-Committee and will involve the Board of Industrial Training or a similar National Agency.

14.IV.7.11 A Forestry Vocational School will be established in the Interior.

14.IV.8 Forest Administration

14.IV.8.1 The functions of the Guyana Forestry Commission, as set out in Section 4 (1) of the Guyana Forestry Commission Act, will be reviewed in the light of new legislation for other agencies, and will take into account current administrative practices. This review will result in the formulation of a new integrated National Forest Act.

14.IV.8.2 The new integrated National Forests Act will re-establish a Guyana Forestry Commission which will include:

- a Chairman of the Commission;

- the Commissioner of Forests as an ex-officio member;

14.IV.8.3 Representatives of other relevant government agencies as ex-officio members; and representatives of the Forest Products Association and Non-Governmental organisations operating in the natural resources sector.

14.IV.8.4 The professional head of the Staff of the Guyana Forestry Commission will be designated Commissioner of Forests. The Commissioner of Forests will be the Chief Executive Officer of the Forestry Commission.

14.IV.8.5 To supplement its own human resources, the Guyana Forestry Commission will from time to time and through contractual and other arrangements, enlist the expertise of private persons and agencies and non-governmental organisations, for the performance of its operational functions, e.g., the inventorising of forests and the preparation of management plans.

14.IV.8.6 The responsibility for forestry matters will be transferred to a newly created Ministry of Natural Resources. This new Ministry will also absorb the functions now undertaken by the Guyana Natural Resources Agency which will be abolished.