French Guiana

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Environmental Crime Legal Framework in French Guiana

French Guiana is governed by the provisions of the French constitution as a territorial collectivity of France. It forms a part of the French Republic, and sends two elected representatives to the National Assembly and two to the Senate. Local government is headed by a prefect and by a 51-member Assembly whose members are elected by universal adult suffrage. The principal political parties are the Guianese Socialist Party and the Union for a Popular Movement. Other political parties include the Movement for Decolonization and Social Emancipation, the Guiana Democratic Forces, and Walwari, a leftist party.

Featured Legislation

1967: Decree No. 67-207 was passed, establishing the list of forests and land to be afforested or restored belonging to the State, located in the overseas departments (Guyana and Réunion), whose management and equipment are entrusted to the National Forestry Office. This decree establishes the list of forests and land to be afforested or restored belonging to the State, located in the departments of Guyana and Réunion, and specified on the list in the appendix, whose management and equipment is entrusted to the National Forestry Office.

1991: Order of July 17, 1991 was enacted,  establishing the list of marine turtles protected in the department of French Guiana. The destruction or removal of eggs and nests, the mutilation, destruction, capture or removal, naturalization or, whether alive or dead, the transporting, peddling, using, offering for sale, selling or buying specimens of the following sea turtle species: Leatherback turtle (Dermochelys coriacea); Loggerhead sea turtle (Caretta caretta); Olive Ridley Turtle (Lepidochelys olivacea); Riddley's Tortoise (Lepidochelys kempii); Scaled Turtle (Eretmochelys imbricata); Green sea turtle (Chelonia mydas).

1992: A decree establishing the nature reserve of the island of the Grand Connétable was created. This decree creates the nature reserve of the island of Grand-Connétable (Guyana). It is formed by 22 articles divided into 4 chapters, namely: Creation and delimitation of the nature reserve (I); Management of the nature reserve (II); Regulation of the nature reserve (III); Final provisions (IV).

1996: Decree No. 96-491 was intorduced. This decree establishes the nature reserve of La Trinité (Guyana). It is comprised by 21 articles divided into 3 chapters, namely: Creation and delimitation of the nature reserve (I); Management of the nature reserve (II); Nature reserve regulations (III).

2016: Order of 30 September 2016 was approved, creating the integral biological reserve of Petites Montagnes Tortues. This decree creates the Integral Biological Reserve (RBI) of Petites Montagnes Tortue, with an area of 2364 ha, in the state forests of Bélizon and Régina (municipalities of Régina and Roura, department of French Guiana), whose objective is the free expression of the natural evolution processes of forest ecosystems, for the purpose of preserving biological diversity, protecting remarkable habitats and species, and developing scientific knowledge. Any logging and any other human intervention likely to modify the composition, structure or functioning of natural habitats is prohibited in the RBI, except for the following actions, in accordance with the management plan of the reserve: Works that may be necessary securing and maintaining (the perimeter of the reserve; a discovery footpath created and marked with the authorization of the ONF, or management trails of the reserve; properties adjoining the reserve) ; tree cutting products will be left in the reserve (work that may be necessary for protection against natural risks and elimination of non-native plant or animal species).

2017: Decree No. 2017-457 was ratified, relating to French Guiana's multi-year energy program. This decree lays down the multiannual energy program for French Guiana establishes action priorities for all energies from the point of view of controlling demand, diversifying energy sources, security of supply, the development of energy storage and networks. It covers a first period of three years (2016-2018) and a second period of five years (2019-2023).

Featured Case Studies: Transnational Environmental Crime, Human Security, and Biosecurity

French Guiana’s border is plagued by large-scale illegal gold mining, despite education and awareness campaigns spearheaded by the government. InSight Crime, a non-profit journalism and investigative organization specialized in organized crime in Latin America and the Caribbean, has revealed the environmentally destructive practices committed by gold dredgers, or skalians, as they're known in Suriname and French Guiana.Illegal mining operations have garnered widespread condemnation for the environmental degradation they cause in both  Suriname andFrench Guiana. These illegal operations use heavy metal and mercury, both of which bind to gold. Runoff mercury pollutes the river and its populations of fish, damaging an important source of food for local indigenous communities. The presence of dredgers in French Guiana is nothing new, however, as dredgers are commonly used in South America for river gold mining, particularly in illegal zones. Erlan Sleur, an environmental expert and founder of the nongovernmental organizationProBios, has been recording environmental crimes in both countries for quite some time now.ProBios is dedicated to protecting French Guiana and Suriname’s biodiversity, but despite the presence of French and Surinamese military on main rivers, miners have not been captured nor had their dredgers and equipment seized. The government’s inaction is due to a lack of political will and a tense relationship between the two governments when it comes to the border. Some environmental activists and defenders have cited state crime and organized crime as the source of illegal mining operations.

References and Further Reading


Ministère de l'Agriculture, de l'Agroalimentaire et de la Forêt; Direction de l'Alimentation, de l'Agriculture et de la Forêt; Service de l'Alimentation: