Jun 10, 2010 News Comments Off on Visiting Professor attracts anger over climate change gaffe
Visiting Professor of Applied Ecology, Francis Putz, brings a global debate to Guyana and seems to have no difficulty finding parties to counter his arguments as the Minister of Agriculture comments on the Professor’s presentation.
Professor Putz, who holds joint professorships with the University of Florida and Utrecht University in the Netherlands, is an ecologist and a silviculturist.
In this his first visit to Guyana he spent nearly a fortnight out in the field with a number of students from the University of Guyana and other institutions.
A little over 24 hours after their return from the interior, Professor Putz gave a seminar at the University of Guyana on Monday evening. The basis of the Professor’s Lecture followed the ideas that he put forth in a letter which was published in the Stabroek News on June 3, last.
He said that the Kyoto Protocol, which guides climate change adaptation negotiations around the world, excluded standing forests from their considerations as one of the factors affecting climate. According to Professor Putz, because the Kyoto Protocol remains in force until 2012, there needed to be another initiative that would encompass standing forests, enter REDD or Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation.
In the letter previously mentioned he highlighted what he thought was a global issue that even environmentally conscious Guyana has not escaped from entirely. Putz posits that “carbon emissions” benefits of improved forest management are not being sufficiently stressed.”
He goes on further to say that in the global climate change debates the focus tends to be on the deforestation rather than the degradation.
In his presentation the Professor pointed out that degradation is not an issue to be ignored either since it accounts for almost 10 per cent of global carbon emissions every year.
He went on to say that the most significant causative factor of degradation was conventional logging. As such he presents a possible solution, Reduced Impact Logging (RIL).
According to the Professor, if Guyanese forests are being logged at a rate of 500,000 cubic metres of timber annually using conventional logging practices then he estimates that “100,000 Mg (tons) of carbon could be retained annually in the forest by universal adoption of reduced-impact logging (RIL) practices.”
He continues to make his case by pointing out that “this reduction in emissions would be secured with no reduction in harvested volumes.”
The Professor then went on to point out that the funds generated by these ‘saved emissions’ could then be utilized to train workers in reduced impact forestry techniques. And further, those benefits could be increased by employing silviculture to increase logging yields.
The day after Putz’s article was published a letter to the same publication disputed the Professor’s position and the letter-writer, one Mr. Terrence Williams, contended that there were numerous documents attesting to the fact that the Government of Guyana was doing everything in its power to address not only deforestation but forest degradation as well.
Minister of Agriculture, Robert Persaud, when asked for comment on the matter said that “the benefits of RIL are clear in Guyana’s context and in actuality have been expounded in a number of publicly available documents including: the LCDS, the Terms of Reference for the Monitoring Reporting and Verification System, and the Readiness Preparation Proposal among others.”
He went on to say that “to an even further extent, actual work has started to operationalise many of these plans that effectively outline how deforestation and forest degradation will be assessed and monitored, and the role of sustainable forest management which included Reduced Impact Logging in Guyana’s REDD+ activities.”
And that “it was unclear following the presentation whether the presenters were familiar with these.”
Persaud said fact that to date the Forestry Training Centre has thus far instructed more than a thousand persons in Reduced Impact Logging practices. He went on to point out that RIL has been the predominant practice in the forestry sector for a number of years.
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