May 01, 2015 News
The Ministry of Natural Resources and the Environment, along with the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) of the United Nations (UN) and the European Union, yesterday launched a project with the Forestry Training Centre for the development of a pilot timber harvesting and forest monitoring model for small loggers associations. This model is aimed at improving compliance with the forests laws and ‘agreed-to’
forest management prescriptions in Guyana.
The agreement was signed by Manager of the Forestry Training Center Inc. Quacy Bremner and the FAO representative in Guyana, Reuben Robertson at the Guyana Forestry Commission (GFC) building in Kingston.
Minister of Natural Resources and the Environment (MNRE) Robert Persaud, observed that it was always the desire of government to manage and utilise the forests to provide economic opportunities for all Guyanese. The project targets six small loggers’ associations in Region Ten.
The minister also noted that involving all communities within the Upper Demerara-Upper Berbice region would see them working together, as he reminded that with the downturn of the bauxite industry, forestry activities were introduced.
He pointed out too, that there are no special concessions given to anyone, adding that if there is a preference, it would be for a local company or organisation. He was referring to recent articles appearing in some sections of the media that the government was giving special treatment to foreign investors.
He stated that, “I want to refute any perception that there is preferential access to non-Guyanese,” noting that if there is any discrimination then it is in favour of Guyanese as, “we don’t want Guyanese operators within the community to be left behind…”
The minister also noted that with 260 forestry operators being trained in 2014, the target is 1300 in 2015. He pointed out that working with timber and non-timber in forests, value added timber products would provide the country with environmental services.
The EU Ambassador to Guyana Robert Kopecký speaking of the EU’s satisfactory partnership with Guyana said that, “… The EU and Guyana (have been) working together on various levels to preserve its heritage in the climate change negotiations aiming to conclude the voluntary partnership agreement for timber exports and through capacity building projects like the one today is a noble cause.” He added that forestry has to play a major role for sustainable development in climate change adaptation and mitigation.
It was for this reason he stated, that the EU adapted the FLEGT (Forest Law, Enforcement, Government and Trade) programme in 2003 as a response to illegal logging which covers both supply and demand measures. The action plan’s core procedures are the FLEGT measures which are the EU regulations, Kopecký pointed out.
He explained that the agreement between EU and Guyana in 2012 involved an agreement which has shown decent progress when it ended this month.
The EU Ambassador observed that the FLEGT process in Guyana has also provided the opportunity to further strengthen and maintain its consolidation towards maintenance of forest government, improving legal compliance and building capacity for community engagement for forest policy engagement and implementation.
Ambassador Kopecký also said that the EU shared the initiative that forest laws could be further improved. He noted that the EU/FLEGT US$10M programme would ensure that countries follow the plans. He welcomed the six associations working together to follow the law.
Bremner meanwhile stated that Region 10 is gaining funding from the FAO to carry out projects and to ensure sustainable overview and increase the capacity of the small loggers’ association and others. He also added that communities would also be enabled to monitor online and would also reduce the laws being broken, and would ensure sustainable forestry management.
Ruben Robertson of the FAO observed that partnership is the best way to go in order to produce the greatest results. He pointed out that with the US$122,000 given by the EU; the MNRE would be the custodian of the funds to be disbursed. Robertson added too, that the FAO’s focus would be among global objectives which are to improve livelihoods across the world. He expects the Forestry Training Centre to achieve two objectives; to help ensure small loggers comply with the laws, and assist all loggers in their capacity for compliance with the model.
The agreement is aimed at a number of realisations; the first is to have a developed model, the second, capacity built to better manage concessions; the third is to have a system of data collection and the fourth, transparency and accountability.
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