54 hinterland communities granted permission to log
Government yesterday insisted that the forest deal with Norway for US$250M is a good one. It added that the criticisms of the role of McKinsey and Company are totally unfounded.
Chairman of the Guyana Forestry Commission, John Caesar, stressed that the officials preparing the report which was critical in preparing the country’s Low Carbon Development Strategy, included Nobel Laureates.
The comments were made yesterday during a seminar to observe the United Nations’ naming 2011 as “International Year of Forests”.
The event at the Guyana International Convention Centre (GICC) at Liliendaal, was attended by President Bharrat Jagdeo, Minister of Agriculture, Robert Persaud, other government officials and several representatives of hinterland communities involved in forestry activities for a living.
Caesar, echoing the President and Persaud, stressed that although Norway had also struck deals with Brazil and other countries, when taken on per capita basis, Guyana would have done well.
Over recent years, government has been moving jumpstart economic activities in the hinterland areas.
According to Minister Persaud, some 54 hinterland groups were granted 81 State Forest Exploratory Permit (SFEP) to exploit some 328,000 hectares of forestlands, a clear indication that there could be sustainable harvesting even while Guyana pursues its LCDS path. It is not insignificant that 20,000 persons depend on forestry activities for a living, with the resources like “green gold”.
With over $2B annually being invested in the forestry sector, there are also challenges like concerns over mining and forestry rights within a particular area.
Jagdeo, however, was critical, noting while that there is increasing global and local awareness over the critical role of the forest, developed countries continue to turn a blind eye and while willing to dole out a few dollars, are generally unwilling to cut their emissions.
With temperatures expected to rise between three per cent and five per cent on the current pathway, unless something is done, the forests will die. The deal with Norway has only served to gain credibility for Guyana, the Head of State argued.
While traditionally forestry activities were for large companies, Government has introduced measures that allow for communities to now benefit. The move would have reduced illegal logging, ultimately.
The President, reassuring that the move to use the forests for monetary gain will not affect sustainable logging, said that while 99.5 per cent will remain intact, the rest is a large area that can take care of the needs.
He lauded GFC as a model organization with young minds and challenged the Guyana Geology and Mines Commission (GGMC) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to take note.
The President also lashed out at recent attempts to discredit the Norway deal, noting that the Alliance For Change made a mistake by asking for information when those same information were available in the budget presentation earlier this year.
Also represented at the seminar were the Forest Products Association (FPA) and the National Toshaos Council. Yesterday, the seminar was expected to elect an executive of a national body to represent operators within the community forest programs.