I refer to the Mr. Williams letter of KN dated 2019.09.11 on the subject (Evidence suggest spread of corruption and collusion within GFC’s forest monitoring unit) and wish to stress that indeed these occurrences are widely thought to have been deliberately planted or being carried out. The Buck Hall area is a known transit point for the passing of illegal produce. We have been in the logging business for over a decade and the GFC system has been very rigorous and often time’s loggers complain of the system being too rigid. However, the industry has come to appreciate these systems are necessary to meet international best practice and standards such as Forest Certification and EU FLEGT.
What many stakeholders and communities like ours have seen is an organised and deliberate effort by elements within the monitoring unit to bypass the once rigid monitoring systems. No doubt this is apparently led by the Head and or senior officers in monitoring unit so that a few privilege operators who are willing to make the offers get by unchecked. As a result, there has been an organised systematic failure of the GFC monitoring system, which will undoubtedly lead to the collapse of the President Granger Green State Development Strategy and Other International Environmental Commitments such as EU FLEGT.
We have been logging in the Essequibo communities for over a decade and operators know that to move logs and lumber you need tags, permits as well as your quota. Training programmes conducted over the years by the GFC, WWF and Iwokrama have given stakeholders a good insight on good logging practices and training in SFM. What we have seen for example in the Buck Hall and North West area, loads of wood are coming out and the officer (under instructions from HO) are allowing them to pass using receipts and other unknown documents (fictions) rather than the traditional documents of permits, tags, and transshipment. There is no check to verify where these woods come from or who sell it. Tags and permits are being recycled and reuse so that you take out more than you originally allowed. The officers encourage people to poach other people area or cut outside the boundary and drag the materials in their area. They then allow these poachers to transport it out as their produce knowing fully that the produce comes from another person area. The end game is that the operators do what they are told what to do and people led from the top cream benefit off State Resources.
Persons without concessions are given a free pass, they poach legitimate concession holders area and the officer allow them, to move the wood with presumably fake or sometimes no documents. The Barama Buck Hall road is a hot spot for the passage of this illegal produce and the further mixing of this contaminated and undocumented produce with legitimate produce and thus hiding the illegality. Sources have indicated that officers make 6 digit figures ($) from these schemes.
The small communities who are unwilling to get into these dubious schemes are squeezed out of the business and given a lot of bureaucracy to get your operations going e.g. having your produce held up awaiting stump inspection.
I agree with Mr. Williams that it is unacceptable that these transgressions are happening, the nation’s forest is being raped, rampant illegality and a scheme of allege fraudulent practices and the Commission, Board, Ministry, MOP is not aware. What a joke! I believe these deliberate fixing of the system can be considered fraudulent and/or criminal and the Police should be called in to investigate.
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