The Chinese firm Bai Shan Lin (BSL) has applied to the Environmental Protec-tion Agency (EPA) for permission to begin large-scale logging and sawmilling operations at its forest concessions in Regions Six and Nine.
Bai Shan Lin has announced big plans in various sectors for Guyana but concerns have been raised by some analysts that its primary interest is logs for export with little downstream processing. BSL’s access to key parts of the economy have also raised questions about the regulation of its business by the forestry commission and associated bodies.
The project would entail the felling, extraction of timber and transportation of same to a processing facility, grading, construction of roads, skid trails, bridges, culverts, and camps with other ancillary facilities within the concession, an EPA ad published in the Kaieteur News yesterday said. The EPA said that it recognizes that the development may have significant impacts on the environment and an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) is required before any decision to approve or reject the proposed project is taken.
Members of the public have within 28 days of the notice being published to make written submissions to the EPA setting out questions which they require to be answered or considered in the EIA, the ad said. It said that a summary of the project can be viewed on the EPA’s website but when checks were made by Stabroek News, the documents had not been placed online. When the EPA office was contacted, an official said that it would be placed online within an hour and subsequently said that it would be done as soon as the information technology personnel was located and said that it could be until Monday. Up to last evening, the document was not placed online.
Bai Shan Lin last year announced a US$100 million investment plan to develop its holdings in Guyana, which include a forest concession of 960,000 hectares, a 20-kilometre river gold mining concession, a 5 km2 construction area for a Guyana-China Timber Industry Economic and Trading Co-operation Park and 400-acres land for real estate development.
BSL controls almost one million acres of forest after taking controlling interest in a number of small forest companies with concessions. Its subsidiary companies are Karlam South America Timbers (Guy-ana) Inc., Haimorakabra Logging Company Inc., Sherwood Forest Inc., Wood Associates Indus-tries Ltd and Kwebanna Wood Products Inc.
Minister of Natural Resources and the Environment Robert Persaud had said that BSL had access to three concessions where full-scale harvesting operations were being undertaken through legal joint venture arrangements. He explained that while the company had direct access to 83,307 hectares, it also had legitimate access via State Forest Exploratory Permits (SFEPs) to 345,865 hectares.
Earlier this year, the company indicated that it is moving to construct a wood processing facility, ship building operation and exhibition centre. The EPA said that it has determined that an EIA is not required for the projects and an environmental authorization with specific conditions for environmental management may be granted to the applicants for the implementation of the projects. In relation to the first two projects, the EPA in another ad, said that it has been determined that an environmental management plan be done by an independent body and submitted to the agency for approval.
Persaud had said that BSL has guaranteed that the majority of logs harvested would be for local processing since its planned wood processing facility would need a steady supply. According to the minister, the wood processing facility will be in operation come 2015.