Aug 30, 2017 News
– details process to obtain logging, other concessions
Commissioner of Forests, James Singh, has provided details about the process undertaken by applicants to obtain lands for logging and other purposes within the nation’s vast forest region.
During his testimony, Singh shared information as it relates to the conflicts between loggers and miners, arising from the overlapping jurisdiction shared by the Guyana Forestry Commission (GFC), and other stakeholder agencies.
The GFC official was summoned before the Commission of Inquiry (COI) into Ancestral Land Ownership and other matters, which is continuing at the Guyana Lands and Surveys (GLS) headquarters, D’Urban Backlands, Georgetown.
The exercise is spearheaded by Chairman Rev. George Chuck-A-Sang and Commissioners, Berlinda Persaud, Professor Rudolph James, David James, Paulette Henry, Lennox Caleb, and Carol Khan-James.
During his testimony before the COI, Singh explained that although the GFC is responsible for the management of the forest estate and the issuance of state forest concessions or state forest allocations throughout the country, the Commission often interfaces with other stakeholder agencies, because of the overlapping jurisdictions it shares as it relates to said lands.
In response to questions by Attorney for the Commission, Darren Wade, the GFC official noted that because forest lands are used for multiple purposes; agricultural, eco-tourism and mining minerals, the forestry commission would often liaise with other agencies such as the Guyana Geology and Mines Commission (GGMC) and Guyana Lands and Surveys Commission (GL&SC), to avoid conflict between forest concession holders and miners etc.
While he admitted that there were instances where conflict arose between the various operators, Singh told the commission that a multi-stakeholder approach has been adopted to alleviate the problem.
The witness said that information sharing among the key agencies (GGMC, GL&SC, the Ministry of Indigenous Affairs and the Ministry of Natural Resources) has resulted in a greater level of cooperation between miners and forest concession owners.
“We have a very detailed allocation process, which is considered transparent and robust. In the process of allocating forest areas, we would publicly advertise that any person can go to the nearest forest station and uplift a map of the area they would be interested in.”
“And if an issue arises, we try to work around it and resolve any conflict. The land can be used for different purposes, but we try as far as possible to have them (miners and loggers) co-exist.”
Explaining further his roles and functions before the Commission, Singh said as part of his duties at the GFC, he is tasked with ensuring that the five divisions within the organization submit their annual work plan for the approval of the Board of Directors of the Forestry Commission, as well as managing the implementation of the said work plan.
Additionally, Singh explained that he would carry out other relevant duties delegated to him by the board or the Government.
The witness told the Commissioners that Guyana has 21.5 million hectares of land that stretches throughout the 10 administrative regions. He said that 12.6 million hectares of Guyana’s land mass represents forest lands.
According to Singh, the expanse of land has divisions in Demerara, Berbice and Essequibo, which is two parts. Within those divisions there are forest monitoring stations with over 250 staffers located throughout the country.
Additionally, he said that the forest lands are monitored via satellite and other modern methods adopted by the GFC.
In terms of granting of applications for forest concession, the GFC Commissioner explained that there is a process to be followed.
“The list of applications for concessions is taken to the GFC Board of Directors for approval, it is forwarded to the GGMC and Ministry of Indigenous Affairs for their no objection,” Singh related
“Once there is no objection, advertisements are placed in the newspapers, so that anyone is basically aware of the list. The list is also posted at every forest station throughout the country.”
The list, he said, is further scrutinized by Forest Resources Allocation Committee of the GFC and later screened by a technical subcommittee before it is placed for final approval or rejection by the Board.
Singh told the commission that the process has been subject to a number of audits, including international standards tests, and has proven to be very robust and transparent.
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