–new market opportunities being explored
THE sustainable use of Guyana’s forest resources has generated great returns over the years, especially in the area of timber production and exportation, which is projected to remain lucrative this year, with estimated returns of US$28 million.
Boasting one of the highest percentages of forest cover in the world, Guyana presents immense opportunities to investors, who are interested in sustainably utilising and developing forest resources.
Already, persons have capitalised on those opportunities and this is evidenced by returns from the exportation of timber in 2021, which amounted to US$26.5 million.
As outlined by Budget 2022, timber output grew from 344,179 cubic meters in 2020 to 383,189 cubic meters in 2021, reflecting strong demand as a result of the expansion in construction activity.
Additionally, the adjusted National Log Export Policy has allowed for the rebound of timber exports including in the medium range species such as Wamara logs.
In support of continued growth in the forestry sector, the government anticipates the conversion of three large concessions, equivalent to 1.5 million acres, which will result in the production of an additional 30,000 cubic meters of logs in 2022, and approximately 50,000 cubic meters of logs, annually, for the next four years.
Further, 50 new small concessions of a combined 150,000 acres will be allocated, resulting in a further 20,000 cubic meters of logs being produced.
“In 2023, we project to allocate another 500,000 acres, with an estimated production output of 30,000-40,000 cubic meters of logs, annually. In 2022, expanded road rehabilitation will target the Puruni road while we will examine the bridging of the Puruni River,” Senior Minister in the Office of the President with responsibility for Finance, Dr. Ashni Singh had said during his presentation of Budget 2022.
The minister had said that the rehabilitation works will result in substantially improved ingress and egress for the forestry sector. Those, along with regular monitoring of benchmark targets, are expected to redound to improved performances within the sector.
In the area of expanding the local value chain for wood products, the government has been exploring market opportunities for export of sawn lumber to Barbados and pre-fab to Ghana and other countries.
For the latter initiative, 120 pre-fab houses will be manufactured using local wood and exported to Ghana this year, in an effort to secure a long-term relationship with this potential market.
The government will also work to resuscitate three kiln drying facilities at Essequibo, Berbice and Linden, which will support the supply of sawn lumber to the Barbados market, among many others.
Further, in the area of marketing, a wood expo is planned for the second half of the year to promote value added opportunities which will benefit the over 100 licensed sawmillers and 25 higher-end value producers.
The event is slated to attract over 80 overseas buyers and several value-added experts from Europe and North America.
Simultaneously, in 2022, the government plans to work on finalising Guyana’s Timber Legality Assurance System, which is required for the implementation of the European Union Forest Law Enforcement Governance and Trade programme in order to be licensed to access the EU and other markets.
It was reported recently that the forestry sector also stands to benefit significantly from an ongoing Forest Inventory Programme, which seeks to “take stock” of the forest resources.
This multi-year project, according to the Guyana Forestry Commission (GFC), will see the “updating of forest resource information that is essential for national and concession-level planning and scientific research and referencing to support the modern outlook of the National Forest Policy and the Low Carbon Development Strategy.”
The last time that a National Forest Inventory was executed was some 50 years ago.
The ongoing implementation of the inventory will see field-data collection on state forests by administrative regions – all except for Regions Four and Five, where no state forests occur. In 2021, the GFC targeted clusters in Regions 10, Two and Three, before moving onto Regions Six and Nine.
Minister of Natural Resources, Vickram Bharrat, had said that the new effort will allow for the “mapping out” of various sections of the forest, to ascertain the number of trees that it holds, the sizes of those trees, and the species to which they belong.
According to information released by the forestry commission, the inventory is also expected to provide several key benefits at the national level, including, but not limited to, the “stratification of Guyana’s forests” based on the quantity and quality of forest resources in different areas, resulting in efficient zonation of forests based on intended use.
It will also result in the identification of areas for conservation and protection, provide baseline data for understanding the forest dynamics in these areas, allow for efficient biological and ecological research by providing preliminary baseline data on forest species, composition and distribution, and allow for the integration of forest inventories with GIS/Remote Sensing technology, using empirical national forest data to design specific technologies for the monitoring of Guyana’s forests, among other things.