Jul 18, 2009 News
The Linden-Lethem transportation corridor can be developed with low rates of deforestation and forest degradation, Minister of Agriculture, Robert Persaud said yesterday.
He was commenting on the draft findings of a study to determine the opportunities and challenges that would come with national development while pursuing the concept of avoided deforestation.
The study, funded by the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), concentrated on the Georgetown-Lethem Transportation Corridor (GLTC), which stretches an estimated 575 kilometres. The Corridor is listed for development as part of an initiative by South American leaders to integrate the infrastructure of the region.
Dr David Singh, Executive Director of Conservation International (Guyana), speaking at a workshop to garner inputs from stakeholders in finalising the document, said the Corridor is an absolutely critical element in Guyana’s development.
Apart from increasing access and linkages to Guyana’s southern neighbours, the road allows for access to the country by average citizens, “and probably most importantly, will reduce our dependence on a coastal area that is vulnerable to sea level rise and other climate change related events.”
With the upgrade of the Corridor, Singh said traditional agriculture and natural resource extraction sectors of the country’s economy will expand as natural resources and lands become more accessible, unless alternative incentives are created. He noted that the expansion of such activities will also be driven in part by the decreasing transportation distance to the Atlantic Ocean for products from northern Brazil by as much as 500 kilometres.
Similar conditions elsewhere lead to the conclusion that such development could lead to an increase in the level of deforestation and degradation of Guyana’s forests. It was in this context that Conservation International, with its partners, Climate Focus, StarVision and TerraCarbon LLL entered into agreement with the IDB to execute the case study.
In initiating the study, Singh said the government recognised that the GLTC also serves as an excellent study site to predict future rates of deforestation and to develop and test mitigating measures and REDD, enabling frameworks that could be extended to other areas of the country. REDD, the concept of reducing emissions from deforestation in developing countries, was first introduced at the United Nations Conference of the Parties (COP11) on Climate Change in December 2005, by the governments of Papua New Guinea and Costa Rica and was supported by eight other Parties.
The challenge was to establish a functioning international REDD finance mechanism that can be included in an agreed post 2012 global climate change framework. Forest-rich nations, like Guyana, are arguing that a functioning international REDD finance mechanism needs to be able to provide the appropriate revenue streams to the right people at the right time to make it worthwhile for them to change their forest resource use behaviour.
Minister Persaud told yesterday’s workshop, held at the Regency Hotel in Georgetown, that the results of the case study of the LGTC largely confirm the main thrust of Guyana’s Low Carbon Development Strategy, that of reconciling two seemingly incompatible agendas – economic growth and sustainable management of our natural resources in a framework of an effective forest carbon financing mechanism.
He said the draft study substantiates that sustainable development in Guyana, in this case, the Linden to Lethem Road, can continue and be fostered along a low carbon development trajectory.
“We are further encouraged that this much needed national development project, the Linden to Lethem Road, can be realised with low rates of deforestation and forest degradation and through the implementation of an effective incentive mechanism,” Persaud stated.
He said, too, that the study has shown how one aspect of development in the Low Carbon Development Strategy can be assessed and modeled, to ascertain the effects on deforestation and degradation, in a wider financing framework.
The technical reports of the study have concluded that in a reference scenario which has an effective forest carbon financing mechanism, referred to as a REDD mechanism, when applied, can have a significant positive impact on project level development activities.
“As such, the work completed under this initiative will allow for important methodological implications in conducting a forest carbon stock assessment to be outlined, the application of GIS and remote sensing technology in assessing deforestation and degradation across various reference scenarios to be better understood, and a policy framework to effectively implement a financing scheme.”
Avoided deforestation has been the main pillar of the Low Carbon Development Strategy in addressing continued sustainable utilisation of natural resources whilst targeting a number of high potential low carbon sectors including hydro power, bandwidth provision, non-traditional agriculture, aqua culture, sustainable forestry practices, ecotourism and others.
Targeting such a mechanism requires a strong performance indicator system to be developed, Persaud said, noting that “there must be a monitoring, reporting and verification system and an appropriate reference scenario model.”
Conservation International and its partners concentrated on understanding and documenting the potential low carbon emissions that would result from deforestation directly and indirectly attributable to the Georgetown-Lethem road, highlighting the threat to biodiversity.
According to Dr Singh, the results and deliverables were developed and presented in a way to also enhance the government’s ability to analyse and address possible carbon emissions from other potential land use activities.
“We expect that the outputs from this consultancy will provide an important contribution to the economic development of Guyana that fully integrates biodiversity conservation and climate change considerations, is sustainable, and serves the best interest of the people of Guyana,” Singh stated.
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