The Ministry of Natural Resources will soon be introducing an enforcement unit within its confines. The unit will be boosted by rangers who will ensure that mining companies and operators fulfill their responsibilities to the environment.
This was disclosed by Minister of State, Joseph Harmon, during a recent interview. According to Harmon, the Government was currently looking at establishing a unit that would enforce existing regulations in areas prone to misuse by recalcitrant miners.
“We are looking at regulations and an enforcement entity within the Ministry of Natural Resources,” Harmon said. “We believe that there needs to be greater emphasis on regulation and enforcing these regulations in the hinterland.”
“We had started to look at setting up a unit for that purpose,” Harmon added, “not a unit for land reclamation. This was a unit for a ranger corps.”
According to Harmon, land reclamation was part of a programme for which there was funding. He disputed previous reports which had stated that he had announced the formation of a land reclamation unit.
“Land reclamation has to do with reclaiming those lands which were (classified as) mined out land,” he said. “(It also involves) the way in which you deal with companies who have mining permits for which they dig up the land and don’t do anything to refill it.”
“Where they were actually mining and when they move from one area they are required to refill the land, replant and then move on. So that is the model that we will look at and that is the current posture of the Ministry.”
In 2014, the Guyana Geology and Mines Commission (GGMC) had launched a land reclamation project valued at $500M to reclaim lands and engage in reforestation activities to preserve the forest for future generations.
Through financial support from the Government of Norway, Guyana had been pursuing some developmental projects expected to help in the preservation of the forest.
The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) had also been helping Government to implement the Amerindian Development Fund financed by the Norwegian Government through the Guyana REDD+ (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation) Investment Fund –GRIF.
Land reclamation is restoring land distributed to mining operations to what it was before being mined that is, restoring the environmental balance.
The Guyana Lands and Surveys Commission (GL&SC) recently announced that it would be partnering with the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organisation (UNFAO) to implement a Sustainable Land Development and Management Project.
The proposed project is expected to come on stream in January 2017. This would be the largest collaboration of its kind in Guyana between the UNFAO and the GL&SC.
It is understood that the project would be funded through the Guyana REDD+ Investment Fund (GRIF), in line with the Low Carbon Development Strategy, and in keeping with the ideals of a low emissions pathway of the Green Economy Framework.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) under the Environmental Protection Act (1996) is required to coordinate a National Protected Areas System. The Kaieteur National Park was the first legally protected area in Guyana.
After that came the Iwokrama Rainforest. This received its status when Guyana dedicated two percent of its forests as a place for research.
Afterwards, Guyana established a Protected Areas System. Priority areas included Shell Beach, Kanuku Mountains, Mount Roraima, and the southern Guyana region. After much consultation, both Shell Beach and the Kanuku Mountains became legally established Protected Areas.
Additionally, the Government of Guyana passed the Protected Areas Act in 2011.
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