Latest update June 2nd, 2023 12:49 AM
Mar 20, 2023 News
Int’l Day of Forests 2023…
– GFC to re-grow hectares of forest – Min. Bharrat
Kaieteur News – With International Day of Forests set to be observed on Tuesday, March 21, 2023, Natural Resources Minister, Vickram Bharrat has assured that steps are being taken to ensure Guyana’s green credentials are intact.
In this regard, Bharrat said his ministry and the Guyana Forestry Commission (GFC) have embarked on a number of initiatives over the last two years to not only stimulate growth and raise awareness on best practices but also ensure Guyana’s forests remain well protected.
Bharrat shared for example that the GFC has established a multi-year project that allows for the continuous improvement of its Monitoring Reporting and Verification System (MRVS). For those who may not be aware, Measurement, Reporting, and Verification (MRV) refers to the steps taken to measure the amount of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions reduced by a specific mitigation activity, such as reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation, over a period of time and reporting these findings to an accredited third party. The third party then verifies the report so that the results can be certified and carbon credits can be issued.
MRV also seeks to prove that an activity has actually avoided or removed harmful GHG emissions so that actions can be converted into credits with monetary value. One credit equals one ton of reduced GHG emissions expressed in tons of CO2 equivalent (tCO2eq). These credits are the results that the World Bank pays for through specific results-based climate finance arrangements, like Emissions Reduction Payment Agreements (ERPAs). They are also the basic units traded in international carbon markets and used to fulfill countries’ Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) under the Paris Agreement.
According to Minister Bharrat, the data collected by the MRVS allows the ministry and GFC to report on the progress of the indicators under Sustainable Development Goal 15 which states: protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems; sustainably manage forests; combat desertification; and halt and reverse land degradation and biodiversity loss.
Bharrat said GFC will continue the implementation of Phase Three of the MRVS in 2023. This is guided by the MRVS Roadmap for Phase 3. He said this will also support Guyana in meeting the evolving international reporting requirements from the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), as well as the continuous fulfillment of additional reporting requirements, such as obligations under the bilateral cooperation agreement with the Government of Norway.
It was further explained that the MRVS will address the needs of the Paris Agreement and the guidance of the accompanying Katowice Rulebook on the enhancement of the transparency framework, the reporting needs related to Biennial Update Reports (BUR), and tracking of Guyana’s progress in implementing its Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) commitments.
At the policy level, Minister Bharrat said this phase of implementation will be guided by the Low Carbon Development Strategy (LCDS) 2030 as well as a potential Phase 2 of the Guyana Norway Bilateral Agreement.
He said, “The Natural Resources Ministry and GFC recognize that the MRVS will have an important role to play in the implementation of the LCDS. It will also be critical as the performance measurement mechanism for forest agreements such as the sale of forestry credits through the ART-TREES mechanism and in reporting on the progress of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).”
EU PARTNERSHIP AGREEMENT
Apart from the foregoing project, Bharrat was also keen to note that the Government has made significant progress on the Voluntary Partnership Agreement (VPA) under the European Union (EU)’s global programme on Forest Law Enforcement Governance and Trade.
He recalled that in December 2022 the Voluntary Partnership Agreement (EU VPA) was signed at the 2022 United Nations Biodiversity Conference of the Parties (COP 15). He said this marked the end of a 10-year negotiation process.
Bharrat said too that, “It solidifies Guyana’s position as a frontrunner in the protection, restoration, and sustainable management of our forests. The next phase of the process is ratification by Cabinet and the EU Parliament, which is slated for 2023.”
Bharrat also noted that his ministry recognizes that forest inventories are essential for forest management planning, concession allocation and forest utilization. To achieve optimal and sustainable forest use, he said the GFC’s legislation as well as the National Forest Policy requires the agency to conduct forest management planning. After more than five decades, he said the GFC in 2019 rolled out the implementation of the National Forest Inventory (NFI). He said this multi-year project will update forest inventory intelligence – essential to national and concession-level planning to support the LCDS 2030 and the forest policy.
Additionally, Bharrat said the project will also allow for the stratification of Guyana’s forests based on the quantity and quality of forest resources in different areas. He said this supports efficient forest zonation based on the intended use and the identification of areas for conservation and protection. Bharrat said too that it will also provide for baseline data for understanding the forest dynamics in these areas along with the integration of forest inventories with GIS/remote sensing technology, using empirical national forest data to design specific technologies for monitoring Guyana’s forests.
LAND RECLAMATION PROGRAMME
In keeping with the objectives of the LCDS 2030, Bharrat said government intends to regrow several hectares of forest as a priority. In 2023, he said the Ministry of Natural Resources and the Guyana Forestry Commission will embark on a land reclamation programme to support this long-term goal. He said the restoration and rehabilitation of degraded forests through reclamation will provide an avenue to compensate for the loss of forest cover due to deforestation in mining and the extractive industry sector as a whole.
Against this backdrop, he said the government, in budget 2023 plans to invest GY$300M to support initiatives such as carbon sequestration, which are proven to enhance biodiversity in wildlife habitats, and increase soil fertility.
He said too that the ministry has taken a holistic approach to managing the natural resources sector. Further, he said the ministry has advanced discussions with the senior management of each agency, to reinforce the commitment to transparency and accountability of each stakeholder. Bharrat said, “I have also engaged a number of stakeholders and companies who have indicated their interest in the sector development and investment. These engagements span the mining, forestry and petroleum sectors and included high-level technical support from the relevant sector agencies and the Ministry.”
Bharrat added, “These teams are committed to addressing issues of transparent allocation of concessions, improving workers’ conditions and re-tooling of the forestry sector. Invariably the non-operation of forestry concessions and the reversions of same have imposed adverse consequences on the levels of production, export and revenue generation.”
Notwithstanding the foregoing, the Bharrat said government remains focused on efficient utilization, and maximizing the yield from leased concessions with corresponding increases in production, export and revenue.
ABOUT GUYANA’S FORESTS
According to LCDS 2030, Guyana’s forests are considered vital assets in the global fight against climate change – and the country has one of the lowest, if not the lowest, deforestation rates in the world. However, the forests also serve a multitude of other functions, including generating employment and income through the forestry, agriculture, and mining sectors.
The document also notes that Guyana’s forestry sector accounts for approximately US$40 million to US$60 million in export value annually and employs over 20,000 persons.
Additionally, there are 17 large concessions in Guyana and 580 small concessions, all of which are leased to and operated by community forest operators and private individuals/ companies. The State holds no equity or other management interest in any forest concession.
The Government, through the Guyana Forestry Commission, monitors and regulates the activities of forest concessions to ensure that strict sustainable forest management rules and guidelines are implemented, and that forest legislation is implemented effectively by operators.
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