Minister of Natural Resources Raphael Trotman told the Government Information Agency (GINA), that the government is exploring several ways to utilise the forest concessions that Barama has given up and has begun a review “to determine whether we can use the concession as is, as a carbon sink and earn from it, or whether we can give it out.”
The Ministry of Natural Resources and the Guyana Forestry Commission are still to meet with stakeholders to determine the way forward on what to do with the concession. “There are some interests shown. (We are to decide whether to) give it out entirely to one group or whether we can make parts of it available to smaller loggers,” the Minister explained.
Barama announced via a press statement last week that it would not be renewing its 1.6M hectares forest concession agreement with the government which expired on October 15. However, analysts are contending that one of the main reasons why Barama gave up its concessions was because of the slow pace of the incumbent administration to renew the expired agreement.
The company did indicate however, that it would continue its value added forestry production which includes, sawmilling, plywood manufacturing and veneering.
Minister Trotman told GINA that there is an opportunity for small loggers to supply the company’s factories. “We’re still to get into discussions with them where this will go. It may be an opportunity for smaller loggers to supply Barama with the logs so that their production continues and other people get a better bite of the cherry,” Trotman said.
It is unclear whether the moves outlined by the Minister Trotman will in anyway provide avenues to absorb the more than 500 persons who would jobless as Barama continues its retrenchment process.
Meanwhile, there has been a concerted effort by the government to ensure added value to forest products locally. As such companies in the forestry sector have been taking steps to ensure that value is added to forest products, GINA says.
Trotman told GINA that companies have been making progress in ensuring that the raw lumber is processed. He said large concession holders like Vaitarna and Variety Woods are “very good examples” of companies making strides in adding value to forest products.
“ (Companies) have been taking steps bringing in mills, maybe not the best mills but the fact is that they are making moves and we’re supporting them because we see there’s an intention to add value to their production lines and we’re supporting that,” Trotman told GINA.
The Iwokrama Sawmill came in for praise from the Minister for its work in adding value to forest products. “They are doing good work in terms of not just producing logs or exporting logs but lumber that is specifically sawed or planed and prepared for export markets,” Trotman said.