Guyana’s forests score lower deforestation rates for 2017 – GFC
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THE Guyana Forestry Commission (GFC), in outlining key areas of advancement, reported on Friday that in 2017 they recorded the lowest deforestation rate in Guyana.

This was disclosed during a press briefing on Friday morning in observance of National Tree Day in which the GFC reported on their advancements within the forest sector, including national deforestation assessment, forest restoration efforts and forest legality.
Head of Planning and Development Division, Pradeepa Bholanath, said the GFC has completed mapping of year 2017, forest change from deforestation drivers.

She related that the assessment is part of the national programme of Monitoring Reporting and Verification (MRV) that Guyana started in 2010 with support from the Norwegian Government and which forms part of the Guyana Norway Partnership on climate and forests.

In giving statistics, she said results for year 2017 deforestation assessment show a continuing reduction on the rate of deforestation or loss of forest.

Bholanath added that the rate of deforestation for year 2017 is 0.048 per cent, which is a reduction from the year 2016 which concluded on a deforestation rate of 0.05 per cent and mapping of forest degradation is being finalised for the year 2017.

Climate change
GFC Forest Monitoring Division Deputy Commissioner, Gavin Agard, told the press conference that over the past 10 years from 2009 to 2018, there have been several developments in the area of climate change mitigation with a focus on key areas of REDD+ (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation).

He stated that over this time, the Monitoring Reporting and Verification System (of forest) underwent Phase one of its development which saw the completion of historic assessment of forest cover from 1990 to 2009, followed by five annual assessments for 2010 to 2014, and additionally, there were several developments at the natural resources sector level in various aspects including the passage of a new Forest Act and the revision of the National Forest Policy and Plan 2018.

Agard said a second phase of the MRVS was launched and the first assessment completed under this for the period 2015 and 2016, showing the lowest deforestation rate for the annual periods monitored from 2010 to 2016. Recent updates from Year 2017 also point to a similarly low level of deforestation.

He added that this momentum was maintained over the period 2015 to 2017 whereby progress continued in REDD+ development over the past two years. REDD+ includes an overarching umbrella of areas – technical monitoring aspects, as well as REDD+ policy, and programmatic implementation, directed towards the support of continued low rates of deforestation and forest degradation, conservation and sustainable management.
Forest Land Allocation
Bholanath disclosed that there has been a national review of forest areas allocated as forest concessions.

She stated that the review has concluded in areas being repossessed or not renewed to an extent of close to two million hectares, moving the total allocated state forest from six million hectares to four million hectares. All areas below the fourth parallel previously issued as State Forest Concessions, have reverted to the state.

Independent Forest Monitoring
She pointed out that the GFC, with support from Norway, has continued the national level assessment programme of forest legality in Guyana and this has seen the conclusion of the assessment for year 2016 and 2017 completed and made public.

Bholanath added that this programme is set to continue with the next assessment which will be for year 2018; this will be completed by March 2019.

Meanwhile, European Union Forest Law Enforcement Governance and Trade (Forest Legality Accreditation Programme), the FLEGT VPA seeks to establish a Trade Agreement between Guyana and the EU for agreed timber products.
Once signed, the VPA becomes binding on both parties. The VPA is built on the national legislation in the partner country.
Since its formal commencement in 2012, the VPA process has been led by a multi-stakeholder, National Technical Working Group (NTWG).

Speaking on forest regulations, Secretary to the GFC Board of Directors, attorney-at-law Jacey Archibald, said that they have finally completed the regulatory framework adding that with the passage of the legislation in Parliament in May/June this year gives them stronger basis for enforcement.

He reported that the GFC has filed seven law suits in the courts totalling $90M against Chinese company Bai Shan Lin in their forest land concession matters.

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