As the controversy surrounding Bai Shan Lin’s operations in Guyana continues, the main question is why the company is exporting large quantities of exotic woods such as “Locust and Wamara”.
Conservationists have been arguing that countries where these “exotic” woods are found should not export large quantities since they are considered an “invasive species”.
Invasive species, also called invasive exotics or simply exotics, is a nomenclature term and categorization phrase used for flora and fauna, and for specific restoration-preservation processes in native habitats, with several definitions.
Sometimes called Guyana Rosewood for its lustrous, dense, and colour, Wamara technically isn’t true rosewood (Dalbergia genus), but is in what could arguably be viewed as one of the most under-appreciated genera of tropical hardwoods: Swartzia.
This genus is filled with a variety of colorful and striped woods, most of which remain obscure. It is considered an “exotic wood” in many parts of the world.
The Locust tree is native to the southeastern United States, but has been widely planted and naturalized elsewhere in temperate North America, Europe, Southern Africa and Asia and is considered an invasive species in some areas.
Pricing for the species…
Bai Shan Lin on July 2009, last, exported 558 pieces of Locust Sawn Timber from Guyana.
In October 2009, the company also exported Wamara Sawn Timber. A total of 5303 pieces were sent out in two containers. World Market demand for these two species of wood could fetch a heavy price. The “Wamara” which is being sold by the cubic meter can fetch a price of between US$200 and US$600.
Kaieteur News was told that the “Wamara” logs can be sold from between US$260 and US$290. Depending on the demand, the prices can triple, making it one of the best selling timber products being exported.
It is believed that Bai Shan Lin and other logging companies have not been declaring “Wamara and Locust” when exporting. Rather they have been passing this off as mixed hard woods.
Several sources within the Ministry of Natural Resources have said that the Wamara business is among the most lucrative business ventures that Bai Shan Lin is currently involved in.
This newspaper was also told that low level ministry workers along with forestry officials who are tasked with monitoring the export of timber are not able to complete their task. It is being reported that since Bai Shan Lin along with several others entered into joint ventures, it has been “almost impossible” to keep a tab on how much timber is being exported from Guyana.
Bai Shan Lin, a Chinese logging company, has big plans for Guyana: forest concessions covering 960,000 hectares; a 20-kilometre river gold mining concession; a 500-hectare Guyana-China Timber Industry Economic and Trading Cooperation Park and a 160-hectare real estate development.
Despite the scale of the planned operations, Bai Shan Lin’s agreements with the government of Guyana are not public and there has been no discussion in the National Assembly about the company’s plans.
In Guyana, it is illegal for a logging company to take over another logging company’s operation, unless officially authorised by the President. Yet Bai Shan Lin has managed to enter into large scale joint ventures with a number of locals.
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