Above the law: How Chinese logging firm Bai Shan Lin operates in Guyana, with the support of Bharrat Jagdeo
In November 2012, Chu Wenze, the chairman of Chinese logging company Bai Shan Lin, gave a presentation outlining his company’s plans for Guyana at the 2nd World Congress on Timber & Wood Products Trade in Taicang, China. The company’s plans expose Guyana’s proposals to reduce deforestation and forest degradation as a bunch of lies.
Bai Shan Lin is part of a group of 11 companies operating in Guyana. They are all part of the China Forest Industry Group (Hong Kong). These companies have seven logging concessions in Guyana, covering a total area of 960,000 hectares (about 4.5% of the area of the country).
In November 2012, Whu Wenze and David Dabydeen, Guyana’s Ambassador to China, took part in a signing ceremony for a loan from the Chinese Development Bank for Bai Shan Lin’s forestry projects in Guyana.
According to Chu Wenze’s presentation, the company hopes to make a profit of US$1,800 per hectare from its logging concession in Guyana, giving a total profit of US$1.7 billion. The presentation is available here (pdf file, 2.4 MB).
The company’s concessions are illustrated in one of the slides in Chu Wenze’s presentation:
According to the website Global Timber, these concessions were taken over from other concession holders, a process known as “landlording” which is illegal in Guyana (unless officially authorised by the President). Under Guyanese law, forest concessions cannot be traded, but must be re-advertised by the Forestry Commission in an open auction.
Last week, Bai Shan Lin ignored a cease order issued by the Guyana Geology and Mines Commission at a sand excavation pit in Moblissa. The company has received no permission for excavation work in the area and this is the third time that the Guyana Geology and Mines Commission has issued a cease order. Bai Shan Lin has also started construction of a road, without any permission.
Despite the company’s record, among its supporters is Guyana’s ex-President Bharrat Jagdeo. His photograph is included in Chu Wenze’s presentation, as part of the Guyanese Project Promotion Team for an Economic and Trading Cooperation Park that Bai Shan Lin is developing in Guyana.
Other members of the Project Promotion Team include Guyana’s President, Donald Ramotar, and Prime Minister, Sam Hinds.
Bharrat Jagdeo is currently the roving ambassador for the Three Basins Initiative, part of which seems to include begging the international community for more money to stop deforestation. Meanwhile, back in Guyana, he’s promoting a Chinese logging company, which seems to be operating above the law.