Persaud denies Bai Shan Lin controls 960 000 ha forest

Minister of Natural Re-sources and the Environment Robert Persaud on Monday denied that Chinese logging firm Bai Shan Lin (BSL) controls over 960 000 hectares of forest.

“It is wrong; it is misleading. And if Bai Shan Lin is saying that, they should withdraw it and withdraw it immediately, because it is false,” he told the Parliamentary Sectoral Committee on Natural Resources. Persaud and Commissioner of Forests James Singh appeared before the committee and according to Singh, BSL has access to 640, 000 hectares of forest of which 345 000 hectares are under the State Forest Exploratory Permits (SFEP) process.

Singh added that the company has timber sales agreement rights through joint ventures to 280 000 hectares of forest. In total, this would amount to 920 000 hectares to which BSL has access. For over a year, BSL has said that it has access to 960 000 hectares of forest in Guyana but only on Monday did Persaud deny the company’s claims. And despite the officials’ appearance before the committee, questions remain as to the exact nature of BSL’s holdings as some figures do not add up.

Singh told the parliamentary committee that BSL has been issued two SFEPs which covers 345 000 hectares of forest. However, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) documents show that BSL’s two SFEPs only cover 134 316 hectares. SFEP 01/2011 was awarded in November 2011 and covers areas A and B in Regions Nine and Six and amounts to 41 412 hectares and 63 356 hectares respectively. SFEP 01/2013, meanwhile, was awarded in April 2013 and covers 29 548 hectares. These two SFEPs add up to only 134 316 hectares.

BSL via Sherwood Forrest Inc has a third SFEP which covers 167,066 hectares of forest. These three SFEPs would add up to 301 382 hectares of forest. How or when the remaining 43 618 hectares of forest under the SFEP process were awarded to BSL, is unclear.

Singh also told the parliamentary committee that through joint ventures with four companies, BSL has access to 280 000 hectares of forest where it can harvest timber for sale.

Previously, in a power-of-attorney seen by Stabroek News, BSL identified its subsidiary companies as Karlam South America Timbers (Guyana) Inc, Haim-orakabra Logging Com-pany Inc, Sherwood Forrest Inc, Wood Associa-ted Industries Company Limited (WAICO) and Kwebanna Wood Products Inc. Singh, in May last year also confirmed that BSL has GFC-approved joint ventures with WAICO and Haimorakabra for forest concessions, and with Sherwood Forrest Inc for an SFEP. WAICO and Haimorakabra’s lands, according to BSL, amount to 78 204 hectares. Kwebanna Wood Products Inc’s forest holdings, the company said, amounts to 87 356 hectares of land. This would amount to 165 560 hectares of land. It is not clear which other lands BSL has access to, to make up the 280 000 hectares of land cited by Singh from where the company can harvest logs.

A presentation by BSL’s Chairman Chu Wenze had also listed Demerara Timbers Limited (DTL) as being controlled by the company. DTL’s land holdings amount to 522 297 hectares of forest, according to Wenze.

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