Forest Sustainability Services Unit (FSSU)
The Sustainable Forest Management Program (SFMP) of the Forest Department is responsible for the implementation of the approved policies and legal procedures applicable to the management and use of the forest resources throughout the entire country. These policies and procedures are put into action through a number of instruments as determined by the Forest Act (Chapters 213 and 213s), which are the Substantive and Subsidiary Laws of Belize, respectively, governing forest resources in Belize.
It is worthwhile to note that Protected Areas are governed by the National Parks Systems Act, which falls under the purview of the Protected Areas Program.
The Forest Act establishes the following categories of licenses and permits through which forest resources may be authorized for extraction:
A Forest License for sustained Yield working of timber or other forest produce, except chicle or crown gum (Long term Forest Licenses or LTFL): This applies to forests in Forest Reserves and community lands, as well as those on private properties. Currently there are eleven (11) LTFL’s in forest reserves, three (3) in community lands and seven (7) in private properties.
Sustainable forest management in Belize is achieved through the long term planning and use of our forest resources, and this is the core of all Long Term Forest Licenses. The duration of LTFL’s extends from twenty-five (25) to forty (40) years. All LTFL’s are guided by a Management Plan that establishes the species and their volumes expected to be harvested for the duration of the license, as well as the methods to be used for the extraction of timber. Each year an Annual Plan of Operation is prepared and submitted to, and approved by the Forest Department.
A Forest License not on sustained yield basis for the working of timber or other forest produce, except chicle or crown gum and whether in a timber salvage area or not (Short Term or seasonal Forest License): Such a license applies to unprotected national lands, lease lands and private properties. The number of seasonal licenses may vary from one year to another since land may be cleared for various purposes; ranging from agriculture to residential development.
A Petty Permit for the working of timber or other forest produce where the royalty value of the produce does not exceed fifty dollars: This type of permit responds primarily to the personal needs of individuals for small amounts of timber or other forest produce such as building materials and farm-based uses.
All licenses are monitored by the Forest Department, and revenues (Royalties) are collected on the materials harvested by all licensees. All Management Plans and Annual Plans of Operation are reviewed by the SFMP.
Community Forest Initiatives: A few years ago the Forest department launched a program with the objective of involving indigenous community in the Toledo District in the management of forest resources in national lands that were being impacted directly by the existence of these communities. Presently, three such communities are beneficiaries of this initiative through which their members have been trained in various aspects of forest management.
This year the Sustainable Forest Management Program instituted the Post-Harvest Assessments of Long term Forest Licenses with the objective of improving Belize’s compliance with international obligations such as the Convention on the International Trade of Endangered Species (CITES) of Flora and Fauna. Plant species from Belize listed under CITES are; all orchids, mahogany and rosewood.
The trade of CITES species is monitored by this program through an import/export permit system.