Eliminating illegal logging is top priority – Govt
Continued illegal logging is a detriment that has affected the natural resources sector, but Government is inventing new approaches to completely eliminate this practice.
Natural Resources Minister, Vickram Bharrat on Friday gave this assurance during the International Day of Forests conference, underscoring that all efforts are geared towards eradicating this practice.
Bharrat explained that there is a high percentage of illegal logging in Guyana, bringing environmental implications and negatively impacting legal loggers. Moreover, it paints a negative picture of the sector and authorities.
“There is much more to be done. We need to curb illegal logging. Illegal logging destroys the forest and the environment. It paints a bad picture on the Forestry Commission in Guyana and it creates unfair competition for the legal loggers – people who are paying their royalties, taxes and everything. That is something that we are committed to working to eradicate, to eliminate totally,” Bharrat described.
Due to Guyana’s geographical makeup, monitoring areas where illegal logging may occur becomes difficult. However, the Minister assured stakeholders that the goal is to eliminate both illegal logging and mining in the country.
“Because of the dynamics and hinterland, the way in which it is structured and the infrastructure to get into some of the areas, it is so difficult because of our terrain. We may not be able to do it in the shortest possible time or the timeframe that we would have liked but I can assure that we’re committed to eliminating it, like illegal mining as well.”
Bharrat highlighted the need for balance between production and environmental degradation to keep the activities alive.
He explained, “I’m smack in the middle because I have to deal with the environmentalists plus the producers on the other hand. It is something that we have to balance as a Government, as regulatory agencies and as a country because the environment is important. I recognise that and I would do anything to ensure that we protect the environment but on the same hand, the wellbeing of our people is important too.”
The Government is aiming to implement Phase Two of the Low Carbon Development Strategy (LCDS). As such, it is re-engaging the Kingdom of Norway, which was the source of the funds with which Guyana planned to implement various developmental projects.
In a previous engagement this month, Bharrat revealed that they have already re-engaged Norway to start Phase Two of LCDS, which was renamed the Green State Development Strategy (GSDS) by the former A Partnership for National Unity/Alliance For Change (APNU/AFC) Government.
When it comes to Guyana’s current management of its forest resources, he revealed that Guyana is way ahead of many other countries.
“I’m happy to say that we probably have the best forest coverage presently among forest producing nations. We have one of the best, sustainable forestry system or harvesting in Guyana. It’s something that is probably second to none.”
Guyana had, in 2009, signed with Norway a historic forest protection accord aimed at Guyana receiving payments for sustaining its rainforests to absorb global carbon emissions. A total of US$250 million was to be paid to Guyana over a five-year period.
It was revealed by Finance Minister Dr Ashni Singh during his recent reading of the 2021 budget that Guyana has more than US$135 million in climate change-related funds that it is entitled to but has not been able to access due to the political instability under the former Government.
These are funds that the current Government is seeking to have released. Singh had explained that the former Government’s mismanagement and then the protracted political crisis from when they fell to a No-Confidence Motion in 2018, led to funding not being released to Guyana by Norway. (G12)