“We don’t see the vision in the present policy that allows logs to be shipped out of this country. It is obvious that Guyana needs value added; most other countries have banned exportation of logs. I am not sure what Guyana is waiting for.” – Chairman Nigel Hughes
By Abena Rockcliffe
The Alliance For Change (AFC) has promised to place a ban on the exportation of logs, once the Party gets into power following the upcoming general elections. This pledge was recently made to the people of Region Nine by AFC Chairman, Nigel Hughes.
The AFC, equipped with the support of A Partnership for National Unity (APNU), recently tabled a No-Confidence Motion against the Government which, if approved, will force Head of State, President Donald Ramotar to call early General Elections.
The Motion will more than likely be debated and voted upon at the end of Parliament’s recess in October.
AFC has kick-started its campaign for General Elections in Region Nine, covering areas and villages such as Lethem, Baitoon, Maruranau and Shulinab.
Indigenous residents of Region Nine recently had cause to write the Guyana Forestry Commission about concessions that were reportedly given to the largest logging company operating in Guyana, Bai Shan Lin.
AFC Chairman, Nigel Hughes, who was the Party’s lone executive campaigner in Region Nine, was faced with numerous questions from residents during meetings.
Quite a few of those queries reflected worry about the mass extraction of Guyana’s natural resources and the fact that the country is getting little or nothing in return. Concerns were also raised about the amount of land concessions being granted to foreign companies.
Hughes informed worried citizens that the AFC has strong views on the protection of the forest as well as the need to get the most out of the resources in the country.
The attorney-at-law told residents that Guyana has potential to become a prosperous nation “if we manage our resources well.”
Hughes sought to make it clear that the AFC does not have a problem with any logging company, but has difficulty with the current policies in place as it relates to harvesting of timber and the fact that timber, when turned into lumber, can be shipped out the country.
(Timber is said to be the wood that is erect and is attached firmly to the earth’s ground. This is the term used for a tree that has not yet been processed into lumber. Lumber is the wood that is no longer attached to the ground often referred to as a log.)
Hughes told the people of Region Nine that should the AFC get into power; the party will seek to ban the exportation of logs.
“We don’t see the vision in the present policy that allows logs to be shipped out of this country. It is obvious that Guyana needs value added; most other countries have banned exportation of logs. I am not sure what Guyana is waiting for.”
The lawyer highlighted that in 2007, the Guyana Forestry Commission, through consultations, agreed to ban the exportation of logs by 2012, but this did not materialize.
Hughes emphasized that if the AFC becomes government, “We won’t target any company, because even though we would like locals to have first opportunity, every country needs investors and foreign investment can be good if the agreement is coined correctly.”
The Party Chairman said however, that AFC would seek to put polices in place to secure value-added processing.
In this context, value added is the process of turning timber into lumber, furniture, paneling, flooring, cabinets, musical instruments, veneer, plywood, house logs and a host of other wood products. Because these products are worth more than raw timber, such manufacturing is called “value added processing”.
According to the International Tropical Timber Organization (ITTO), adding value to the timber harvested from tropical forests is an important part of sustainable forest management.
The organization’s website states, “As more raw timber is manufactured in-country into value-added or ‘downstream’ products such as doors, windows, furniture and joinery, more local people will find employment and, importantly, convincing reasons for protecting the forest resource. Moreover, as the wealth of a nation increases, so too does the level of resources that can be applied to protecting the many values of natural tropical forests.”
A recent ITTO report shows that many tropical countries are making considerable progress in developing their value-adding timber sectors, often based mainly on plantation resources; another study provides insight into the manufacture of furniture from tropical timbers.
Alaska’s Department of Natural Resources website noted that value-added processing is extremely important to that state because, “When Alaskan timber is exported as logs, the only jobs produced are logging and transportation jobs. If timber is processed into other goods, the same wood can also support manufacturing and sales jobs. If our timber is processed locally, more Alaskans can be employed for each acre harvested. Our goal is to have as much state timber processed in state as possible.”
Recently, this newspaper published a series of revelations on the operations of the largest logging company in Guyana, Bai Shan Lin. These revelations included the way the company treats Guyanese workers, the destruction of roads in Kwakwani, the vast amount of logs being shipped out of Guyana even though the company doesn’t have a licence, the value of the logs being exported and the fact that Guyana is getting little or nothing for the loss of the precious natural resources.
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