No sale of forest environment services without gov’t say-so
Environmental services provided by Guyana’s forests cannot be sold without the agreement of the government, Minister of Agriculture, Robert Persaud says.
He said all environmental services provided by Guy-ana’s renewable natural resources, inclusive of forests, are and continue to remain the property and patrimony of the people of Guyana. This includes all environmental services provided by the Iwokrama forest and all other state forest areas that have been issued as leases to concessionaires for sustainable forestry utilization, research or any other Government approved activity, he said. “As such, there can be no sale of these services unless there is prior consultation and agreement with the residents of Guyana”, the Minister added.
Persaud, in a statement said the headline of an article in yesterday’s Sunday Stabroek ‘Canopy spreading climate services $$ on Iwokrama’ was “thoroughly misleading”. He said based on queries and in the spirit of transparency, the Government wishes to reiterate publicly that the declared policy is that all environmental services provided by Guyana’s renewable natural resources, inclusive of forests, are and continue to remain the property and patrimony of the people of Guyana and cannot be sold without the consent of Guyanese.
“I wish to also advise that the Government of Guyana‘s representatives on the Iwokrama International Board of Trustees (IBOT) have consistently voiced this policy position at Iwokrama Board and other related meetings such as the those of the Iwokrama Science Commit-tee”, Persaud said. “For the sake of additional clarity, the public should be advised that Canopy Capital has a license agreement with Iwokrama to quantify and value the multiplicity of environmental services provided by the Iwokrama forest. Payment to Iwokrama is simply for this licensing agreement to undertake these studies”, he said.
This newspaper reported yesterday that Iwokrama received US$100 000 last year under its deal with UK-based financial firm, Canopy Capital (CC) with the sum received used to support measurement and valuation of Iwokrama’s ecosystem services. The article also reported that last Thursday, GAP/ROAR Member of Parliament, Everall Franklin asked Prime Minister Samuel Hinds whether an agreement has been made/signed with a private company and Iwokrama with respect to the sale of eco-system services in that area and the Prime Minister responded “no”.
In his statement yesterday, Persaud said there is no agreement for the sale of these services since only the Government of Guyana is authorized to enter into such negotiations.
Stabroek News Editor-in-Chief Anand Persaud said there was nothing wrong with the headline which said in essence that Canopy was spending money on Iwokrama in relation to its climate services data.
The Minster said his clarifications are also intended to correct “misleading information” by the REDD-Monitor in an article since December 3, 2008 which was distributed to several Parliamentarians. He said that REDD-Monitor stated that “Canopy Capital contracted with the Govern-ment of Guyana to buy the eco-system services of the area for an as yet undisclosed sum”.
According to Persaud, the article “is a perfect example of the type of irresponsible reporting that REDD-Monitor is famous for since the Government of Guyana has not entered into any such agreement with Canopy Capital or any other firm”.
He said the Government of Guyana assures the general public that there will be full public consultation and disclosure prior to the Government agreeing to the sale of any environmental services inclusive of forest carbon. “This is all part of our continued commitment to transparency and good governance”, he said.