Economic returns of forestry sector disappointing – Clive Thomas
Declaring that Guyana has had paltry economic returns for its forestry sector, Professor Clive Thomas has
stated that he has been disappointed with this outcome, since deforestation was no longer an imminent issue.
“Whether it was a boon for Guyana or a regrettable loss as I had represented it, for a country of its size, vulnerability, and poverty, which was also exceptionally well endowed with forest resources, to be seemingly boastful of its historically comparative low deforestation rate. Instead of lamenting the underperformance of the forest sector, analysts represent this as a boon,” he stated in his weekly column in the Stabroek News.
He pointed out that according to the National Development Strategy the forest sector averaged two per cent of GDP for the years 1988-1993, that figure rose to eight per cent in 1999 – the highest ever in the country’s history. But this figure has for the last decade has been on a decline by about one quarter.
Recently, President David Granger announced that the Government has pledged to put two million hectares of forest under conservation. He explained that the allocation of more land to the protected area system would ensure that these natural resources were used sustainably and preserved for future generations, and was part and parcel of the plan to promote a green economy.
However, this move has gained criticism from Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo, who insisted that with a deforestation rate that low, there really was no need to convert more of the country’s forest which could otherwise be utilised in an environmentally friendly way to boost production and ultimately generate revenue for the country and its people.
He explained that Guyana’s deforestation rate has remained one of the lowest in the world, around 0.065 per cent, contending that the commitment was silly also, because even developed countries were not making these pledges.
Arguing that modern-day forestry has experienced ground-breaking transformations, Thomas stated that Guyana has been able to access the innovations through technical assistance, whether it was from the Paris Agreement and the inter-governmental bodies, or agencies like the World Bank and the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA).
He deduced that the country has reached a stage of forest development theory and practice, “where the permanent and forever loss of national and global forests are, by no means, as imminent as it was once thought to be, back in the 1970s”.
So, he opined that Guyana’s leadership should take a “hard-nosed approach” towards placing all of the country’s natural resources in the constant service of fighting to remove the scourges of poverty, destitution, avoidable illnesses, ignorance, as well as a dearth of sufficient basic services and social safety-net provisions that plagued the country.
Thomas added that a second related development necessity was incorporating the best science, technology, techniques, and innovation, whether from within the country or through technology transfers from abroad.