The Upper Berbice area, Region Ten, has been dominating the production of wood products this year.
According to the Ministry of Natural Resources, the forestry concessions still have considerable stock.
The Ministry was this week responding to worry expressed about the situation in the Upper Berbice area.
A letter writer, Terrence Williams, urged assistance for small loggers.
According to the ministry, it is not true that the Region Ten concessions are out of stock.
“The Region Ten area has approximately 190 of the 500 small forest concessions in Guyana. This represents approximately 700,000 hectares of State Forest (or about 1.8M acres). Though a small percentage of these concessions have low timber stands, inventory studies of concessions within the region reveal that the majority of concessions have sufficient merchantable tree species with acceptable diameter classes to make the concession viable.”
The ministry said that it found that due to a lack of appropriate equipment, technical inventory skills and an interest in harvesting only the prime species rather than a wider range of species including the Lesser Used Species, it was erroneously concluded that the concessions are out of stock.
“More importantly, Region Ten concessions have declared the highest production for 2019 to date, making the notion of concessions being out of stock untrue. A summary table of concessions and area occupied in Region Ten is attached at the end of this release,” it was disclosed.
Timber is among the top 10 foreign currency earners for Guyana but in recent years, the administration had clamped down, seizing forest concessions held by disgraced Chinese investor, BaiShanLin.
Thousands of hectares were also given up by Barama Company Limited, a Malaysian company.
Region Ten, especially, has seen an emergence of small loggers with a number of associations.
According to the ministry, within Region Ten, multiple concessions were granted to accommodate the increased membership.
“This is true for almost all other Community Forestry Organisations country-wide. The statistics show, however, that Region Ten has approximately 38% of all the small concessions issued country-wide. Additional concession areas are very limited; the loggers in Region Ten, and in other parts of the country, have been consistently encouraged to reduce the sale of logs and to be involved in more added-value activities.”
The ministry said that unfortunately, despite the assistance of the Government, this has not materialized to any appreciable level.
“Only recently, July 2019, the GFC advertised over 60 areas as being available for allocation. 459 applications were received and the GFC Board is currently finalizing its review of these applications. This review process is transparent and applications are evaluated in accordance with published criteria.”
The ministry noted that it is a misconception contained that the tags quota is small as against large members in associations, and a claim that there aren’t any rich species. “It’s fitting to know that the log-tracking system in Guyana was introduced in 2000 to verify the origin of raw material and to control the level of harvesting within State Forests providing detectable evidence on the legitimacy, geographical location, and magnitude of forest operations.”
The log tracking system is regulated by the use of log tags, which are assigned to SFA operators for trees to be felled in all concessions in accordance with the GFC allocated quota.
The ministry explained:“The quota is based on the area of productive forest and exceeding the quota goes against the fundamentals of sustainable forest management principles. The quota is equated to the approximate number of standing trees which will yield the volume; the number of trees computed gives an estimate of the number of tags to be issued (one tag is equivalent to one tree). The quota systems facilitate sustainable forest management within concessions. The GFC and concessionaires must adhere to the system.”
It was pointed out that the 2018 revised National Forest Policy underscores the importance of value-added products in the Forestry Sector for national development, including the creation of new jobs and new economic opportunities.
The Government, the ministry stressed, in 2019 approved the extension of the small concession lease period from two years to three years.
“Small concessionaires were also afforded the opportunity to get an advance of up to 50 % of the 2020 quota, in 2019.”
According to the ministry, it must be noted that Guyana is experiencing unkind weather.
Several road rehabilitation contracts have been awarded to loggers in areas that are predominantly traversed by loggers.
“This intervention was viewed by many loggers in the geographic range as a positive step. Also, this was the first time for forestry operators to be awarded contracts. Miners would usually get assistance from Government for Road construction/ rehabilitation.”
The roads that were approved for rehabilitation were, Armeu Road (0 – 70km) by Bhola Sawmill, Iteballi to Puruni by Toolsie Persaud Limited, Unamco Road (0 – 70km) by Variety Woods and Greenheart Ltd., and Bissaruni Road (0 – 47km) by R. Razack Business Enterprise.
The ministry also disclosed that the small concessions that have directly benefitted from the road rehabilitation, Unamco and Bissaruni. are concessions in the Kwakwani, Bissaruni and on the UNAMCO Road.
In total, there is over 700,000 hectares of forests in Region Ten.
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