– Wamara, account for rise
Only one-third of the total logs cut last year was exported, the Guyana Forestry Commission (GFC) has insisted.
The Commission made the statement yesterday over recent media reports which suggested that a “national tragedy” is taking place after revelations that there is a 21 percent increase in total production.
With increased scrutiny over logging in Guyana’s forests especially with a US$250M agreement with Norway which mandates this country to control its deforestation rates, GFC has been under pressure to defend its monitoring as the government’s regulator.
The Commission noted yesterday that while there was a 21 percent in total production, there was also a 38 percent increase in the export value.
As a matter of fact, there were increases recorded in the export value for all forest product categories.
Last year, GFC said, production of logs was 406,433 cubic meters (m3). Of this, only 138,502 m3 was exported. This meant that 66 percent remained in the country to be processed or used locally.
“This can in no way be translated to a national tragedy since 267,931 m3 or a 66 per cent of total log production volume remains in country, for local manufacturing or utilization.”
Of 24,667 m3 roundwood, some 6,871 was exported or 28 percent. Similarly plywood production saw 28 percent exported or 18,798 m3 produced.
“Additionally, an impartial analysis would have shown that although log exports increased over the 2013 value, there still has been a maintained high level of export value from processed wood products in 2014, compared to 2013.”
GFC made it clear, yesterday, that there was no decrease or trade-off in sawn timber value owing to increasing log exports in 2014.
Last year, exported logs earned $24.4M compared to US$12.5M; sawn lumber US$20.3M compared to US$19.6 in 2013 and roundwood US$4.1 as against US$2.7M in 2013.
Plywood earned US$2.6M to the US$2.3M in 2013 while splitwood saw earnings of US$2.1M to the US$1.7M.
GFC said that there cannot be a generalized comparison of unit value for logs, lumber and other value added products since these products do not have a standard unit cost of production.
“It takes approximately twice the volume of logs, or more, to generate one cubic meter of lumber, given the current level of recovery of the forest industry. There is a significant additional investment that is required to be in place, for certain types of added value operations.”
GFC also claimed that the large majority of logs exported are not of the prime species, but rather from the lesser used and lesser known species. These included the famous Wamara wood which is in high demand in China.
According to 2014 log production, values show an increase of 42 percent over the 2013 total for categories which include Wamara and the other lesser utilized species and a mere 11% increase for those species in the prime category -also called Special Category.
”Further, the forest sector continues to grapple with inherent challenges such as the high cost of energy, challenging physical environments, forest areas with limited accessibility, and fluctuations in local and overseas markets where emphasis is shifting from tropical timber to less expensive competing products.”
GFC said that despite these uncertainties, in 2014, the forest sector in Guyana saw significant improvement compared to 2013 —-21% increase in total production; 38 % in export value.
“Meanwhile, the forest sector has a bright future, especially in increasing productivity, promoting the use of a wider range of species, and manufacturing of much more quality added value forest products. This is based on factual evidence and stakeholders can rest assured that there is no “national tragedy”.”
Last year, based on complaints of heightened activities in the forestry sector, by especially the Chinese, Kaieteur News found that Bai Shan Lin, a major player in the local scene, was controlling a significant amount in the trade of Wamara. GFC said that the Chinese company was toeing the line and not in contravention of any regulations.
Recently the Ministry of Natural Resources, during a meeting with loggers to encourage them to enter into more value-added activities, said that main product categories last year was 530,000 m3, an increase of 21 per cent over 2013 figures of 437,000 m3.
The Ministry said that exports of forest produce in 2014 were US$54M, an increase of 38 percent over the 2013 value of US$38M.
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