– Trotman tells National Assembly
By Abena Rockcliffe
Pull quote: “How could a responsible government preside over the allocation of, not some, but all of its
productive forest?” Understandably, in the national interest we will have to do something about it.” – Natural Resources Minister Raphael Trotman
The new government was horrified to learn that its predecessor had distributed all of Guyana’s productive forest. There is literally nothing left.
While previous revelations about the operations of certain logging companies – that are also into gold mining – had raised suspicions that this was the case, the disquieting suspicion was only confirmed last evening when Minister of Natural Resources Raphael Trotman took the floor of the National Assembly to make his contribution to the ongoing Budget debate.
Trotman told the House that there has to be a revision of National Forest Policy.
He said that in 2016, the Ministry of Natural Resources will continue to update and rationalize policies and laws relating to the conservation, management, protection and sustainable development of the nation’s patrimony, its forest resources.
He said that there have been many changes since the existing policy was crafted.
The Minister said that those changes include a transformation in Guyana’s economic, social and political landscape over the last five years. He said that there has also been increased attention given to environmental aspects, and to the importance of forest managemen,t both nationally and internationally.
Trotman asserted that an updated forest policy will mark a significant shift in emphasis from the development of the timber potential of Guyana’s forests to management of the forests’ multiple goods and services for the national benefit.
To give reason as to the importance of the change, Trotman told the National Assembly that much to the “horror” of the new administration upon the assumption of office, “we were met with an alarming situation where we discovered that 100% or all of our productive forest was allocated by the past Government.”
Trotman added, “This is what a former head of state would have referred to as ‘confounded nonsense”.
The Minister questioned, “How could a responsible government preside over the allocation of all, not some, but all of its productive forest?”
He said that this must have been done without any regard for future generations.
Trotman said that in the context of the national patrimony, this can only be seen as a threat to the nation’s long term viability and security as a people.
He said, “Understandably, in the national interest we will have to do something about it.”
Trotman also highlighted a Mission statement that the new Ministry of Natural Resources has set for itself: “To develop, implement and oversee policies for the sustainable development and utilisation of the natural resources whilst promoting the protection and conservation of the environment”.
He said, “We carry this mission out in collaboration with all other Ministries and agencies.”
Loyalty to that statement will very well demand of the Ministry that it ensure that something is done about the distribution of the productive forest.
Trotman also informed the House that in the area of forestry, production was 550,000m3 to the export value of US$54M. He said that this is lower than previous years, but this happened as a result of too much exportation of raw logs and less value added.
He said however, that the Ministry of Natural Resources will continue to work along with the international community “to enhance our capabilities in this regard.”
Trotman said that work is underway to support sustainable forest management and trade, and ensure access to the international forest products market. He added that the Government will continue to work along with the international community to develop a comprehensive, equitable and sustainable international regime of compensation for the provision of climate amelioration services by countries such as Guyana.
“Government remains fully committed to continuing its partnership with Norway, because it is a model that will allow Guyana to develop renewable energy technologies, while sustainably exploiting Guyana’s natural resources – particularly, our forest resources,” said Trotman.
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