Issues and suggestions to better manage Guyana’s forest with alternative arrangements were yesterday discussed when the Forest Products Association, in collaboration with the Guyana Forestry Commission, hosted a consultation on the Low Carbon Development Strategy.
Stakeholders within the sector, among them several forestry associations, forest producers, sawmillers and other stakeholders were present at the Regency Suites along with Minister of Agriculture, Robert Persaud, were assembled for the forum.
The Minister with responsibilities for Forestry explained that the LCDS is not meant to harm the forestry sector but instead to influence it in a positive way.
The initiative, he said, does not mean closing down concessions or slowing down the sector. Instead it is about stimulating the activities within the sector from an environmental and sustainability standpoint.
There were a number of concerns, he said, raised on the impact that the initiative will have on the sector, but Persaud assured that this will have a positive rather than negative impact on the sector.
Large companies, he explained, will acquire their forest stewardship certification easier with the LCDS.
The difficulties experienced by these companies in obtaining this certification are as a result of bad forestry practices by others.
He explained that if the international community does not buy into the model, then not much will change, he noted, pointing out that it will not change Guyana’s resolve to insist that sustainable forestry is practiced.
The Minister noted that the stakeholders in the sector have to be creative in determining how to expand developmental strategy for economic gain.
According to Persaud, there are indeed gaps and weaknesses in the sector but stated that these can be addressed.
Commissioner of Forestry, James Singh, gave an overview of the LCDS at the consultation.
He highlighted the effects of climate change and its consequence on Guyana as a low-lying state.
At the event yesterday, concerns were raised about the failure of the authorities to include Amerindian lands as part of the state forest.
It was nonetheless pointed out that Amerindian lands are considered private lands and as such they have a choice to be a part of the initiative or not.
Neil Chan of the FPA called for the completion of the national land use plan, which is currently at the draft stage and also for less ‘policing’ especially during the embryonic stages of the LCDS.
A call was also made for the much needed balancing between the forestry and mining sectors, since there are currently major constraints on how both are presently operating.
Last month, President Bharrat Jagdeo, launched Guyana’s low carbon development strategy aimed at promoting economic development, while at the same time combating climate change.
He called for a platform on which developing countries like Guyana are not seen as mere recipients of aid, but as equal partners in the search for climate solutions.
The launch of the strategy represented the start of an aggressive round of consultations and a robust public relations campaign, before it is adopted by the government.
A low carbon economy is one where economic activities are geared to reduce the amount of carbon dioxide that would otherwise go into the air, and also where other activities and lifestyles seek to minimize the effects of climate change.
The implementation of the strategy, for the large part, hangs on the December meeting of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCC) in Copenhagen.
The meeting is expected to lay out a new global framework to combat climate change.
Guyana and other forest-rich nations, want Copenhagen to include incentives for them in keeping the forests alive, thereby providing a reward for the eco-system services the forests provide.
About 80 percent of Guyana’s forests, or some 16 million hectares (37 million acres), have remained untouched over time.
An expert study commissioned by Guyana, estimates that the country could receive payment in excess of US$580 million annually, if it were to engage in economic activities that could lead to the destruction of the forests, but the economic value to the world, if these same forests were left standing would be equivalent to US$40 billion.
Guyana’s forests has been described as ‘world class asset’, in that in its home to 600 species of animals and plant life; generate rainfall; and absorb carbon dioxide, one of the greenhouse gases which pollute the atmosphere and help contribute to global warming.
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