I refer to Ms Janet Bulkan’s letter under the caption “President statement does not appear to accord with the MOU”, (SN, 14-02-10).
I wish to raise the following points in relation to this letter.
1. Contrary to what Balkan outlines in her letter, Guyana is not bound to have zero deforestation or zero production level. The MOU instead states that increases in total extracted volume (as compared to mean volume 2003-2008) will be accounted as increased forest carbon emissions unless otherwise can be documented, using the gain-loss or stock difference methods as described by the IPCC for forest remaining as forests. The MRVS which Guyana is designing will allow for such reporting.
2. H.E. indicated at the forum with miners that production in the mining sector and the same goes for forestry sector as well, can very well increase without increasing harvest levels.
3. Extraction means what gets taken out/removed of the forest and production means what is generated in useable economic resource output. This is not only a technical definitional distinction but it is also a simple linguistic distinction.
4. Bulkan is confusing extraction and production levels. She is evidently not aware that production can very well increase by enhancing efficiency, by utilizing more effective sustainable planning and management tools, and by adding value as in the case of the forest sector. In the mining sector, efforts are being made to allow for cleaner, low impact technology to be used in mining and for prospecting to be done prior to actual areas being cleared. In the forestry sector, forest resources planning and inventory, along with GIS mapping and concession management are being done to improve conversion efficiency and to ensure that production is encouraged to occur in a sustainable way that supports the economic requirements of stakeholders and at the same time reducing environmental impacts.
5. Bulkan incorrectly expresses that deforestation rate is the same as extraction rates. She expresses that if Guyana wants to increase extraction that this cannot happen if Guyana does not increase extraction. Not all lands that are subject to utilization in Guyana are deforested. In reality, very few areas that are utilized end up being deforested.
6. She also incorrectly expresses that all land utilization, like in the case of mining will lead to deforestation. This is not always the case, since once proper planning is done; many areas can be prevented from clearing thus preventing deforestation.
7. Ms Bulkan is supportive of the big mining interests calling for the creation of Mining Reserves since Amerindians village lands are not covered in the MOU. But this is a recipe for the destruction of small miners and the government will not accept this initiative since the resources of the state are available for the livelihood of every Guyanese.
8. Ms Bulkan advocacy for the establishment of mining reserves in the interest of large-scale mining can hurt and displace indigenous people since mining takes place in some Amerindians communities. Further the call by Bulkan for the creation of mining reserves without the application of the free prior and informed consent principle is totally disrespectful to indigenous people and is inconsistent with MOU.
9. Ms Bulkan should be the last person in the world to speak on openness and transparency since her appointment on the technical advisory panel (TAP) of the World Bank Forest Carbon partnership facility was shrouded in secrecy and without the knowledge of the Government of Guyana and other governments who wanted to know how such an appointment was made.
Further Ms Bulkan assessed Suriname Readiness Preparation Proposal (RPP) and failed miserably to object to the new river triangle inclusion on the map of Suriname which is now a growing controversy between the two countries.
10. As a member of the LCDS Multi-Stakeholder Steering Committee (MSSC), I am very comfortable with the chairmanship of his Excellency the President of Guyana and I can attest to the democratic, openness and transparent manner in which meetings are conducted. Minutes of such meetings are produced and concluded to members for discussion at meetings and also posted on the Web site which Ms Bulkan checks on a regular basis.
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