–portions for conservation, small loggers
The 1.6M hectares of forest concessions relinquished by Malaysian-owned Barama Company Limited
(BCL) are to be split into four with Government announcing on Thursday that two sections of it will be open to multi-national companies willing to invest.
The disclosures were made Thursday by Minister of Natural Resources, Raphael Trotman, who warned that companies looking to capitalise on the available forest concessions will have to prove they employ sustainable forestry practices.
Trotman noted that his Ministry has begun inviting tenders for the concessions. Advertisements are being placed locally and internationally.
“The Guyana Forestry Commission has been advertising in the media locally, as well as in major forestry magazines and websites regionally and internationally, to invite interested and highly competent parties to submit Expressions of Interest for State Forest Exploratory permits,” Trotman said.
The deadline for applications is January 20, 2016.
According to Trotman, “We will begin a new chapter of greater sustainability practices in forestry and a reinvigorated focus on value added,” he explained.
The official explained that the 1.6M hectares concession previously will be divided into four smaller portions. “One of these portions will be used for conservation; a second will be made available to small loggers who are interested in pursuing sustainable logging activities, while the last two will be open to multi-national companies interested in operating larger concessions in an environmentally sustainable way,” he said.
In October, Barama announced its decision to not extend its forest concession agreement with the Government of Guyana.
The company wanted to concentrate on downstream activities like sawmilling and its veneer and plywood factories.
Back in October, the Cabinet had appointed a sub-committee of several ministers to study the options for the 1.6 million hectares of forest and to decide on a way forward.
The sub-committee included the Ministers of Natural Resources, Business, Indigenous People’s Affairs and Social Protection.
Barama’s forestry concessions were the largest by a single company in Guyana. The Malaysian-owned business came here in 1990s and at the height of its logging and related activities had over 1200 workers. It had been engaging the new administration since last year for a renewal of its licences but changed its mind this year after world prices affected operations.
The company had operations in Land of Canaan, East Bank Demerara and Buckhall, Essequibo River.
The company has said that the relinquishing of its forest holdings will see employment losses of up to 500 persons. Many of the staffers have already gone home.
Barama was considered the biggest player in the timber industry and was one of the two biggest investors- along with the Guyana Telephone and Telegraph Company- back in the ‘90s.
World prices for timber have fallen with a number of local companies continuing to feel the shocks.
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