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Specified risks related to 22 sub-categories
Full Timber Legally Risk AssessmentList of Applicable LegislationRisk Mitigation GuideDocument Guide
Equatorial Guinea is rich in wood resources: forest cover is estimated to be 2.5 million hectares, representing more than 90 percent of the national surface area. It has highly diverse ecosystems; from mangroves, coastal forests and grasslands on the coast, to subalpine formations and tall grasslands at the summits (FAO, 2020). In the continental region, vegetation is dense in the humid Guinean–Congolese lowland forest; while Bioko Island has different ecosystems due to the effects of altitude and the notable variation in rainfall. The forestry sector is one of the most important sectors for the national economy, with two-thirds of the population dependent on forest resources. Until recently, the main export product and main source of foreign currency in the country was derived through harvest of about a hundred commercial species. The contribution of the sector to the national economy between 1985 and 1992 represented more than 50% of the foreign currencies and over 20% of the direct income by taxes for the State. Since mid-2018, production and exportation were reduced as a result of new regulations put in place by the government. It is now forbidden for companies without a processing plant to harvest timber, and all permits have to be signed by the President of the Republic. Also, it is now forbidden to export logs, even though there are still a few valid approvals relating to the log piles in the port. This situation has greatly impacted the direct revenues of the State. Despite this extensive cover, the estimated rates of forest loss (deforestation plus forest degradation) show a worrying upward trend, particularly for forest degradation (FAO, 2020). Only nationals can own land in Equatorial Guinea. Foreign companies are permitted to harvest through:
1. Forest Harvesting Lease Agreement (Contrato de Arrendamiento por Aprovechamiento Forestal, CAAF) (national forests)
2. Contract Agreement with
a. private owners (privately owned forests) OR
b. communities (communal forests)
Since late 2018, all forest companies operating in Equatorial Guinea need to form a registered company in the country, to be able to apply for a CAAF in the national forests (Forest Harvesting Lease Agreement); and they are required to establish a processing industry. Also, individuals who wish to obtain a harvest permit need to establish microenterprises. In Equatorial Guinea, it is now forbidden to harvest a tree if the entity carrying out harvesting is not a registered company. (There are some exceptions for timber for subsistence purposes.).
Natural resources (forest and environment) management in Equatorial Guinea is mostly carried out by two ministries: Ministry for Agriculture, Livestock, Forests and the Environment and Ministry of Fishery and Water Resources Although the Ministry for Agriculture, Livestock, Forests and the Environment is the competent ministry in forest matters, the situation is not clear regarding protected areas; because the current laws state that both ministries are competent. Within the MAB (Figure 1), the National Institute for Forest Development and Management of Protected Areas (INDEFOR-AP) provides technical services (topography and cartography) to agents representing public and private projects, as well as those having an impact on production and conservation forests.
INDEFOR-AP was created by Decree No. 60/2002, dated 8 May, as a result of the Conservation and Rational Utilization of Forest Ecosystems in Equatorial Guinea (CUREF) project, financed by the European Union. According to the presidential decree, INDEFOR-AP is a “public entity with its own legal personality and with administrative and financial management autonomy” in the country. However, INDEFOR-AP is part of the MAB, it is not independent and does not have financial autonomy. It has a budget received from the government that is sufficient to cover the salaries of technical personnel, but not sufficient to carry out the programs and missions planned in the CUREF project, nor to update the cartography software supplied by the MAB.
The General Directorate of Forests is responsible for ensuring that forest legislation is respected within the privately owned forests and communal forests subject to harvesting by forestry companies.
The General Directorate of the Forest Guard (GF) intervenes in cases where it is suspected that the activities of a company exceed the limits of the Forest Harvesting Lease Agreement (CAAF), awarded by the government to authorized companies to log within a national forest. The GF also intervenes in other clandestine activities related to logging in free, unallocated State forests.
Forest management in Equatorial Guinea is regulated by Law No. 1/1997, dated 18 February, on the Use and Management of Forests (Forestry Law).
The Forestry Law stipulates that the National Forest Reserve (RFN, Reserva Forestal Nacional) “is permanent, inalienable and in the public domain and must be managed in accordance and under the concept of sustained performance” (Article 5). The Forestry Law divides the RFN into two major categories of the national territory: the production domain (PD) and conservation domain (CD) (Figure 2).
Figure 2: Organisation of the National Forest reserve
In 2013, RFN represented 50% (1,354,766 hectares) of the national territory and consisted of 83% of dense forests, 13% of mixed forests and 4% of other types of land use. PD represented 30% of the national area and consisted of 89% of dense forests, 8% of mixed forests and 3% of other types of land use. CD, on the other hand, represented 19% of the national area and comprised 73% of dense forests, 22% of mixed forests and 5% of other types of land use.
The general principles of Law No. 1/1997 establish in Article 1, the judicial, economic and administrative system that allows the rational and sustainable harvest of the forests and the country’s natural conservation, with an absolute respect to the natural laws that ensure its permanence and growth to benefit present and future generations.
In Article 3 of the Law on the Use and Management of Forests, it indicates that the forest administration is in charge of the guardianship, administration and management of all the forests in the country, including all natural and reafforested forests, wild flora, forest soils, as well as the wild, ground-dwelling fauna.
In Article 4, forest lands are those for which the main use is ‘forest’, when applying the regulation of land classification and use. Forest lands, either natural forests, wild flora or land reforested by humans, make up the National Forest Reserve (Reserva Forestal Nacional). National Forest Reserve is permanent, inalienable, and in the public domain; therefore, and it must be managed according to and under the concept of sustained yield (Article 5).
Law No. 1/1997, dated 18 February, on the Use and Management of Forests in Equatorial Guinea, establishes the National Forest Reserve in two domains:
1. The production domain (Article 12, Law 1/1997) which includes:
a) Privately owned forests: small patches of natural or reforested areas located within the limits of silvo-agricultural or rustic farms, and for which harvesting requires a harvesting permit (Autorización de Apeo) granted by the forest administration, and signed by the President of the Republic;
b) Communal forests: areas of natural or re-established forests that the State recognizes, limits and awards in permanent use to rural communities. For timber harvesting, a harvesting permit (Autorización de Apeo) is required, granted by the forest administration, and signed by the President of the Republic;
c) National forests: areas of natural or re-established forests that the State reserves for itself, to exploit directly and exclusively; or through third parties with the economic capacity to log, process and export wood. Harvesting activities are conducted through a Forest Harvesting Lease Agreement (Contrato de Arrendamiento por Aprovechamiento Forestal, CAAF) signed by the President of the Republic.
The production domain covers 1.5 million hectares. Few years ago, the total area of the awarded concessions (CAAF) was 217,940 ha, of which 194,800 ha have been exploited (WRI, 2013).
2. The conservation domain, which includes all the forests from the protected areas in the national system, and the protection forests; approved by the government and dedicated to the conservation and preservation of wild flora and fauna species, landscapes and unique ecosystems.
The export of logs from Equatorial Guinea has been prohibited since January 2018, to ensure that wood is processed within the national territory as a means of stimulating industry development within the country. VIEW LESS
License/permit: Harvesting permit (Autorización de Apeo) awarded by the responsible ministry and signed by the President of the Republic. Before requesting a harvesting permit, a communal forest recognition certificate is required (signed by the President of the Republic).
The State cedes to a community the permanent use of the forests. A community who wants to obtain communal forests must first present its latest census to the INDEFOR-AP. Then, an area of 4 ha is calculated per head of family, 18 years old or more. The INDEFOR-AP establishes the limits of the proposed communal forest and requests the delimitation with a written request to the Regional Delegation of the MAB, which presents the title to the Minister to be signed (this also needs to be signed by the President of the Republic).
The community can then log that forest or authorize a third party to do so, through a simple contract, signed by the president of the village council and the company, with the approval of the forest administration.
The payment for the logging rights in communal forests is done in kind, meaning performing the same sort of social works done by the forestry companies in the communities adjacent to the concessions in the national forests.
The communal forest is permanently awarded to the community; however, its area is recalculated every 10 years, based on the census. That allows the size of the communal forest to expand with the growth of the community’s population.
The harvest can be carried out by the forest owner, or by an authorized third party.
License/permit: Harvesting permit (Autorización de Apeo) processed and approved by the responsible ministry and signed by the President of the Republic, after the completion of corresponding studies, is required to be able to harvest in privately owned forests.
To obtain harvest authorization, the owner must have the title deed granted by the President of the Republic.
In the case of timber harvesting by a foreign company, it is also required to have a tree purchasing contract, signed with the land owner, with the approval of the Regional Delegate of the responsible Ministry at the continental region To obtain this approval, it is required to submit the harvest authorization previously issued to the forest owner.
Source Type: Production domain (maximum area of 50,000 ha, validity period: 15 years and can be renewed).
License/permit: Forest concessions through a Forest Harvesting Lease Agreement (Contrato de Arrendamiento por Aprovechamiento Forestal, CAAF). It is requested from the Forestry Ministry to get the President of the Republic’s signature.
Article 28 of Law No. 1/1997, indicates the CAAF model to be used, including its duration and the concessional areas, as follows:
a) Short-term: Duration of five years, renewable. Maximum area of 10,000 ha. Processing by the owner or a third party.
b) Medium-term: Duration of 10 years, renewable. Area between 10,001 ha and 30,000 ha. Requires an industrial plant for primary processing.
c) Long-term: Duration of 15 years, renewable. Area between 30,001 ha and 50,000 ha. Requires an industrial plant for primary and secondary processing.
The forms described in this sub-section of this article will be exclusive to nationals.
FSC certified area:
0 ha, updated April 1, 2023