International Day of Forest

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Guyana has a vast forest which covers more than three-quarters of its landmass and contains numerous tree species. Additionally, Guyana has a very low deforestation rate which is often used as an excuse for mismanagement of forest resources.

However, our forest provides invaluable services and the importance of protecting and conserving our enormous forest resources cannot be over-emphasised. Therefore, Guyana will be joining the rest of the world on Thursday, March 21, 2019, in celebrating this very important and diverse ecosystem; the forest.

International Day of Forests
March 21 has been designated as the “International Day of Forests” by the UN General Assembly. The goal of this observance is to help us to appreciate the importance of forests and of trees to our world and to raise awareness of the threats. Each year a theme is selected to highlight a specific area of interest; this year’s theme, ‘Forests and Education’ seeks to raise awareness on how sustainably managed forests provide a wide array of contributions in this area. Therefore, education is vital for the proper management of the forest.

The Importance of Forests
Forests not only provide livelihoods for more than 1.7 billion people and over 2000 indigenous cultures; they provide more than 50 percent of the shelter for species such as insects and animals. They also balance out the levels of oxygen and CO2 in the environment; protect the watersheds which supply fresh water to rivers; provide food for a variety of insects, mammals, birds and reptiles and can cool the air in urban areas by as much as 2 to 8 degrees Celsius.

Why should you be concerned?
Over 32 million acres of forests are lost with every passing year. This removes vital habitats for numerous plant and animal species, lowers carbon dioxide absorption and oxygen production, and increases the world’s collective carbon footprint. In fact, almost as much CO2 is emitted during deforestation efforts as is by the world transportation industry. Forests still cover around 30 percent of Earth’s land mass, but these important natural resources are shrinking day by day.

The most common pressures causing deforestation and severe forest degradation are agriculture, unsustainable forest management, mining, infrastructure projects and increased fire incidence and intensity. These are all issues which can be addressed with proper management of the forest.

Guyana and the European Union partnering to strengthen Forest Management
Guyana and the European Union (EU), supported by the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO), in 2018 inked a forest agreement EU-FLEGT/VPA to help to ensure that Guyana’s forests are valued, managed and conserved now and for future generations. This agreement which started years prior is held as historic and now sets an example for the Caribbean Region as the first VPA in a Caribbean country.

The VPA enables the forestry sector to continue to contribute to the national green economy while maintaining low deforestation rates and most importantly safeguard Guyana’s unique patrimony for future generations to come. Further, the Guyana Forestry Commission house the Secretariat and is the focal point for EU-FLEGT.

More so, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has received funding under the FAO-EU FLEGT Programme to execute the project, “Providing Capacity Building Assistance to Community Forest Organisations (CFOs) on the on the Environmental Authorisation process in Guyana.”

This project will utilise awareness and capacity building as a means of supporting Forest Operators on the process involved in obtaining an Environmental Authorisation in accordance with the Environmental Protection Act, Cap 20:05, Laws of Guyana and the EUFLEGT-VPA legality definition (Annex11).

This initiative involves a series of exploratory meetings in all relevant Administrative Regions followed by workshops with the identified stakeholders. To this end, 69 CFOs are targeted for this project with the goal of having 70 percent of CFO operations permitted by the end of the project. To date, the Agency has completed capacity building workshops with CFOs and other interest groups in Regions 1, 2, 7, 9 and 10.

Participants were equipped with the requisite knowledge and resources to become authorised and ensure their practices are sustainable with is congruent with the theme for this year’s observance.
Join in the celebrations and do your part to care for our forest and secure the present and future generations.

You can share your ideas and questions by sending letters to: “Our Earth, Our Environment”, C/O ECEA Programme, Environmental Protection Agency, Ganges Street, Sophia, Georgetown, or email us at eit.epaguyana@gmail.com or follow us on Facebook and Instagram.