The Log Tracking System in Guyana
The mechanism used by the Guyana Forestry Commission to perform legal verification and enhance tracking of the chain of custody.
During Year 2000 the GFC introduced the Log Tracking System to verify the origin of produce and to control the levels of harvesting within State Forests. Guyana is probably the only country in the world with a complete/national log tracking system. Forest produce originating from Guyana and used in any part of the world, once properly documented, can be tracked directly to the stump of the tree that the wood was taken from.
The Log Tracking System in Guyana provides detectable evidence on the legitimacy, location and magnitude of forest operations. The Log Tracking System currently applies to all operations – including those on State Forests, Amerindian Reservations and Private Properties and is linked to the State Forest Permit (SFP) Quota System - an initiative to control the volume of produce harvested. The Log Tracking System is regulated by the use of Log Tags which are assigned to legal operators at the commencement of an operator’s annual renewal of his SFP licence and are available to the operator free of charge.
Log Tracking and the Quota System
An operator’s quota (forest produce volume) is first calculated by a formula estimate of the sustained yield which considers the size of the forest area and captures the minimum log harvesting variables of felling cycle, felling distance and minimum girth. The quota is equated to the number of standing trees which will yield this volume; and it is the number of trees computed that indicates the number of tags to be issued (one tag is equivalent to one standing tree). Each operator is allocated a number of tags equivalent to his sustained yield and is recognised by a unique sequence of numbers assigned to that operation.
Log tagging is done at stump where one half of the tag is affixed to the stump at the time of felling and the other part bearing the same sequence of numbers as recorded on the stump tag, is affixed to the produce being conveyed. All forest produce including logs, lumber, piles, poles and posts are tagged.
It is the unique numbers of each tag assigned that indicates who the operator is and therefore is able to indicate the geographic origin of the forest produce within the Forest Estate.
The GFC has had to set new internal controls and procedures to ensure the success of the Log Tracking Initiative. Log Tag assignment is a controlled process facilitated by a simple database. Printouts of the database reports in the form of a Register of Log Tag allocations is available to at all Forest Stations and Forest Officers are now better able to verify the origin and capture the royalties due on any forest produce being conveyed.
The Guyana Forestry Commission through its Log Tracking System has developed a procedure to ensure good forest management on all operations. Volumes of forest being harvested by all operators are based on a sustained yield estimate of the forest resources on any given parcel of forest land.
By far the most significant findings and implications are those from a social perspective. The Log Tracking System has exposed and hence reduced the number of illegal operations especially the chainsaw operations.