Trotman defends conservation of 2M hectares of forestlands

…calls on Opposition to nominate State Board representatives

Natural Resources Minister Raphael Trotman has defended Government’s move to place under conservation another 2 million hectares of forestlands, in wake of criticisms from Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo.

The minister is also calling on the Parliamentary Opposition to take up its constitutional responsibility to nominate individuals to serve on the respective state boards for natural resource management.

With the recent signing of the Paris Agreement on climate change, the Guyana Government pledged to put two million hectares of forest under conservation, however Jagdeo had criticised the move, explaining that the productive sector is likely to suffer tremendously as a result.

Responding to these concerns, Minister Trotman dispatched a correspondence to the Opposition Leader explaining why the move would be beneficial to Guyana.

“Far from closing off development opportunities, the conservation of an additional 2 million hectares will bolster our economic development, rather than hinder it.

The world has changed and the value of our forests to mitigate climate change has created a new value for our standing forest.

And more than that, by protecting the coastal conservancies and their watersheds we protect our coastal farmers; conserving rivers’ headwaters will help us weather the droughts that we know will be a part of climate change,” the correspondence stated.

Trotman explained that the conservation of 2 million hectares not only helps us meet our commitments to emissions reduction under the Paris Accords and our REDD+ agreement with Norway, but also our long-standing commitment to the UN Convention on Biological Diversity, (UNCBD) (signed by Guyana in 1992 and ratified in 1994 with bipartisan support.)

He noted that Guyana is currently one of the last nations in South America to meet the UNCBD commitment – to conserve 17 per cent of our land area by 2020.

“If we include the WaiWai Community Owned Conservation Area at Konashen we currently stand at 8.3% conserved, two million additional hectares will get us to the 17 per cent target,” he stated.

The minister reiterated that his government intends to build a truly “Green Economy”, expanding on the previous government’s attempt at a Low Carbon Development Strategy (LCDS), to build a prosperous nation where all Guyanese benefit from responsible stewardship of the country’s national heritage.

He further added that President David Granger’s commitment to create protected areas for recreation and education in each of our 10 Regions will contribute to an improved quality of life for all

Trotman explained that the expansion of Guyana’s National Protected Area System (NPAS) also provides the basis for expanding nature-based tourism, one of the fastest growing industries in the world, and one in which Guyana has many competitive advantages.

In closing, the minister urged the Opposition Leader to nominate its representatives in order to ensure inclusive decision making prevails in the management of the natural resources sector:

“Unlike in the past, these boards are fully functional entities that have control and decision-making authority over their respective agencies and commissions. They also provide input on policy, and the Government of Guyana is fully respectful of their critical role and contribution. The general public will be happy to know that, except for the nominees you are still to name, the boards are fully constituted – inclusive of representatives from across the political spectrum.”