Mining activities are accounting for 85 per cent of Guyana’s deforestation and degradation rates while logging is responsible for 2.5 per cent yet the country continues to keep its deforestation rates relatively lower than many others.
According to Natural Resources Minister Raphael Trotman, with plans moving apace to preserve Guyana’s forests – while mining and logging continue to have a negative impact –the country had its lowest rates of deforestation.
“It shows that we are striking a good balance between mining and forest operations and rather forest conservation. So under our agreement with Norway in 2017, we certainly recorded the lowest rates – which is historic. So Guyana has been pointed out, as recording good figures, good stewardship of its forest,” Trotman said.
The Minister explained that there could not be mining activities without some disturbance of the land and this was not an indictment on the part of miners, but a simple fact. According to the Minister, better stewardship and management have resulted in lower rates of deforestation in Guyana.
“Also, correspondingly with lower rates of deforestation, we are also seeing higher yields in gold production. So, between 2016 and 2018, we have crossed the 600,000 ounces’ mark repeatedly. Before 2015, the highest declarations of gold were 456,000 ounces and we are now over 600,000 ounces, so gold production is up, but deforestation is down.”
Minister Trotman acknowledged that while there was notable progress in these areas, works still needed to be conducted in the area of reclamation in relation to gold mining.
“But the miners will tell you that they are only recovering right not even 50 per cent of gold, so they are going back to some of those tailings as they call them to rework them, so the Guyana Forestry Commission (GFC) and the Guyana Geology and Mines Commission (GGMC) are working to narrow that gap. So, yes, it is a high rate, but at the same time, as I said, we are doing better in terms of our deforestation rates as well,” he noted.
In 2016, the A Partnership for National Unity/Alliance For Change (APNU/AFC) coalition Government had accused former President Bharrat Jagdeo of distributing all of Guyana’s productive forest; hence, allowing the rape of the country’s forest.
However, Jagdeo debunked those claims, stating that the Norwegians, every year to determine payments, send international assessors and these were people who come here and examine the deforestation rate for the year.
This is a reference to the Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation (REDD) concept, in conjunction with the Low Carbon Development Strategy (LCDS), which involved Guyana managing its forests and reducing deforestation in order to reduce carbon emissions while getting paid for it.