Community Forest Organisations gearing up for Environmental Authorisation

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has received funding under the FAO-EU FLEGT programme to execute the project, “Providing Capacity Building Assistance to Community Forest Organisations (CFOs) on the Environmental Authorisation process in Guyana.” This project will utilise awareness and capacity building as a means of supporting forest operators on the process involved in obtaining an Environmental Authorisation in accordance with the Environmental Protection Act, Chapter 20:05, laws of Guyana and the EUFLEGT-VPA legality definition (Annex11). This initiative involves a series of exploratory meetings in all relevant administrative regions followed by workshops with the identified stakeholders. To this end, 69 CFOs are targeted for this project with the goal of having 70 per cent of CFO operations permitted by the end of the project.

What is EU FLEGT?
The European Union Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade (EU FLEGT) programme is a system in place to ensure timber is legally harvested and is legal to enter the European market. Two major elements under this programme are the EU Timber Regulation and the Voluntary Partnership Agreements (VPAs).

What is a VPA?
A VPA is a voluntary but legally binding agreement between the European Union (EU) and each partner country. This is based on the participating countries national laws and seeks to foster environmental and social sustainability. Stakeholder engagement is a vital part of the VPA process.

Capacity building in Regions 10 and 2
A total of 52 representatives from Community Forest Organisations in Regions 10 (Upper Demerara-Berbice) and Two (Pomeroon-Supenaam), benefited from three capacity building workshops held in December 2018 and January 2019. CFO representatives from the communities of Kwakwani, Ituni, Aroaima, Hururu, Great Falls, Number 58 Miles, Mabura, in Region 10; and Akawini, Anna Regina, Mainstay, Bethany, Mashabo, Pomona, Capoey, Riverstown, Pomeroon, Supenaam etc, Region Two; were meaningfully engaged on Environmental Authorisation and the EU FLEGT programme. The workshops were held at the Kwakwani; Number 58 Miles, Mabura, Region 10; and the Regional Democratic Council Boardroom, Anna Regina, Region Two, respectively.
Participants were enlightened on the role and work of the EPA as well as, the Environmental Authorisation process. CFO representatives were also guided on how to properly complete the Environmental Authorisation application form. In addition, officers from EPA’s waste management and air quality programmes led practical exercises on noise, air quality and waste management. Officers engaged participants on the use of the noise meter and other the major areas of concerns for the Agency; as well as, mitigation measures to protect human health and the environment. The Guyana Forestry Commission and regional offices were also represented at the workshops. In the coming weeks, similar workshops will be held in the other administrative regions to ensure all CFOs are equipped to become authorised.

What is an Environmental Authorisation?
An Environmental Authorisation means an “environmental permit, a prescribe process licence, a construction permit or an operations permit.” Environmental Protection Act, Chapter 20:05, laws of Guyana.
As is relates to forestry activities, it is a legally binding document to guide forest operators on best environmental practices before and during harvesting and utilisation of forest resources.
The EPA is the only Agency in Guyana, with the authority to grant Environmental Authorisation.

Do I still need an Environmental Authorisation if I have a licence for the GFC?Yes, although the Guyana Forestry Commission has jurisdiction for the forest, you still need an Environmental Authorisation to ensure all aspects of your operation protects human health and the environment.

Get authorised!!!
The Agency advises all persons involved in developmental activities to be proactive and apply to the Agency for Environmental Authorisation to safeguard your health, the environment and your investment. The Agency will be aggressively pursuing defaulters in 2019 and is advising all persons who have expired permits to have them renewed promptly to avoid prosecution.

You can share your ideas and questions by sending letters to: “Our Earth, Our Environment”, C/O ECEA Programme, Environmental Protection Agency, Ganges Street, Sophia, Georgetown, or email us at: [email protected] or follow us on Facebook and Instagram.