Logging company Bai Shan Lin (BSL) continues to add to its forestry holdings in Guyana and available figures show that it now controls 990,000 hectares of forest.
When questioned recently by Stabroek News about whether BSL had been granted more land, President Donald Ramotar said that he did not know if this was true. “I haven’t signed any… whatever Bai Shan Lin has I haven’t signed anything more. I don’t know what is being talked about, I haven’t given Bai Shan Lin anything more,” he said. “I know that we are gonna look at that, that report that was in the press,” he added.
Last year, the Chinese company said that its forestry resources amounted to 960,000 hectares. However, the company was subsequently granted a State Forest Exploratory Permit for 73,015 acres in Region Six. This concession is among three for which the company has applied to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for permission to begin large-scale logging and sawmilling operations.
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.
According to the project summary submitted to the EPA, the company intends to invest approximately US$2 million per year within the first five years of the operation in Region Six. It says that it is expected that BSL will employ approximately 30 persons for this project which will have an initial life span of 25 years.
The venture will entail the extraction of timber within the forest and transportation to the processing facility at Haimorakabra and at Linden. Logs will be harvested from the approv-ed harvesting blocks and transported to a log yard for grading. The logs will then be transported by logging trucks to Haimora-kabra where they would be processed or further transported to Linden’s processing facility.
The scope of the operation comprises two phases: a preparatory phase and an operational phase. Among the activities in the preparatory phase is the establishment of initially more than 176 km of all-weather roads to allow access to the concession area, the summary says. “The all-weather roads will incorporate a number of bridges and culverts and the establishment of a number of borrow pits; the construction of the roads will lead to the felling of trees along the planned road alignment,” it said.
The company has said that in order to satisfy the needs for raw materials of its Linden Wood Processing Plant as well as to meet the harvesting requirements of Guyana, among other objectives, BSL plans to engage in forest harvesting activities within its allocated SFEP in accordance with the policies and laws of Guyana.
“To sustain its operations the company is currently sourcing rough chain cut lumber from SFPs (State Forest Permission) holders and logging communities as well as TSA (Timber Sales Agreement) holders. However, the fluctuation in the provision of raw materials and quality of material from these suppliers has been affecting the efficiency of the company’s operation and the ability to meet market obligations,” the company said. As such, the summary said, BSL is pursuing the establishing of a logging operation within the concession to supply logs for the existing sawmilling and downstream processing operations and to produce high quality lumber for both the domestic and overseas markets.
The company has also applied for environmental authorization to begin logging operations at two other sites in Region Nine which cover 102,332 acres and 156,557 acres respectively. Among the activities for the preparatory phase is the establishment initially of more than 196 km of all-weather roads to allow access to the concession area.
According to the project summary for those operations, the company intends to invest approximately US$4 million per year within the first five years of the operation. It is expected that the company will employ approximately 50 persons for this project which will have an initial life span of 25 years, the summary says.
BSL 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 hectares of forest after taking controlling interest in a number of forest companies with concessions. Its subsidiary companies include Karlam South America Timbers (Guyana) Inc, Haimora-kabra Logging Company Inc, Sherwood Forest Inc, Wood Associates Indus-tries Ltd and Kwebanna Wood Products Inc.