The Natural Resources Ministry is exploring ways through which it could utilise the forest concessions given up by the Barama Company Limited.
Natural Resources Minister Raphael Trotman said Government has begun a review “to determine whether we can use the concession as is, as a carbon sink and earn from it, or whether we can give it out.”
He said the Ministry and the Guyana Forestry Commission are still to meet with stakeholders to determine the way forward on what to do with the concession. “There are some interests shown. (we are to decide whether to) give it out entirely to one group or whether we can make parts of it available to smaller loggers,” the Minister explained.
Barama announced last week that it would not be renewing its 1.6 million hectares forest concession agreement with the Government which expired on October 15. However, the company indicated that it would continue its value added forestry production which includes sawmilling, plywood manufacturing and veneering.
Trotman said there is an opportunity for small loggers to supply the company’s factories. “We’re still to get into discussions with them where this will go. It may be an opportunity for smaller loggers to supply Barama with the logs so that their production continues and other people get a better bite of the cherry,” Trotman said.
Meanwhile, companies in the forestry sector have been taking steps to ensure that value is added to forest products. There has been a concerted effort by Government to ensure added value to forest products locally.
“(Companies) have been taking steps bringing in mills, maybe not the best mills but the fact is that they are making moves and we’re supporting them because we see there’s an intention to add value to their production lines and we’re supporting that,” Trotman said.
The Iwokrama Sawmill came in for praise from the Minister for its work in adding value to forest products. “They are doing good work in terms of not just producing logs or exporting logs but lumber that is specifically sawed or planed and prepared for export markets,” Trotman said.
Meanwhile, the Guyana Forestry Commission (GFC) facilitates training of stakeholders in key aspects of value added manufacturing. The GFC is also exploring skills training and capacity building in sawmilling to encourage added value to forest products. Additionally, the GFC is working with the Forest Products Development and Marketing Council of Guyana to seek additional markets for these products.