-President Granger says at observance of National Tree Day
President David Granger has pledged to ensure that Guyana becomes a leader in the fight against climate change and in the pursuit of ‘green’ and sustainable development but this, he said, can only be achieved if a concerted effort is taken by all citizens of the country.
Demonstrating that commitment, the President also used the opportunity yesterday to officially launch the Department of the Environment and introduce its Head, Mrs. Ndibi Schweirs. .
President Granger, who was at the time addressing Ministry of Agriculture staffers, residents of Fairview, Upper Takutu-Upper Essequibo (Region Nine) and other surrounding villages of the Iwokrama Centre for Rainforest Conservation and Development, said that the National Tree Day is an important observance in the pursuit of Guyana becoming a ‘green’ state and a leader in the fight against climate change. He noted that the world continues to grapple with the effects of climate change and global warming but Guyana, in becoming a ‘green’ state, has the potential and resources to help in the fight against the phenomena. With this in mind, the Head of State is taking a serious approach to the management of these resources.
“I’ve undertaken to improve the monitoring of our forests so as reduce illegal deforestation, increase value-added activities in the forestry sector so as to augment carbon storage in long-use wood products and introduce mineral mapping in order to better identify exploitable deposits the reducing deforestation caused by the clearing of lands with only minimal deposits. The ultimate objective of Guyana’s ‘green agenda is the creation of a green state. Guyana’s green state rests on six pillars: the protection of our biodiversity and wildlife; the provision of educational, environmental services and ecotourism; the generation of sustainable energy, the mitigation of the adverse effects of climate change; management of our coastal zone, rivers, wetlands and protected areas; and the management of waste and sanitation services,” he said.
According to a statement from the Ministry of the Presidency, the newly established Department of Environment will coordinate the activities of the various agencies involved in environmental management to ensure that Guyana’s patrimony is preserved. While these agencies will continue to function within their subject Ministries, the Department of the Environment will allow them to work more closely together.
“The agencies – Guyana Forestry Commission; Guyana Energy Authority; Guyana Lands and Surveys Commission; Environmental Protection Agency; Project Management Office is involved, inter alia, in the design and administration of projects under the Guyana Redd + Investment Fund (GRIF); Protected Areas Commission; Office of Climate Change; Wildlife Management Authority and the Iwokrama International Center for Rain Forest Conservation and Development. These agencies, authorities and commissions all travel along the same green pathway towards the same destination – the creation of a ‘green state’. We shall improve the mechanism to ensure more effective communication, cooperation and coordination. The Department will be tasked with ensuring the development of an action plan to achieve the objectives of Guyana’s ‘green agenda.’ It will ensure that the respective institutions each play their part in realising these objectives,” the President noted.
“I am serious about National Tree Day because I want each one of you to take away the message that emphasises Guyana’s beauty and biodiversity… Our forests take up about 85 percent of our land mass, the second highest largest percentage forest cover in the world… The trees provide cover for our animals, our beautiful flora and fauna. If you cut down the trees, then the animals will be left in the desert and they will perish and we will lose that valuable cycle of biodiversity. So today is very, very important… Far beyond the importance of planting a tree, it is telling us why we should plant trees,” President Granger was quoted as saying.
The Head of State, who has been pushing a ‘green’ agenda since his assumption to office in May 2015, said that the forests of Iwokrama are a source of sustainable livelihoods for the indigenous communities who reside in its boundaries as it provides food, shelter, medicines and forest products which support the economic well-being of the residents of those communities in a sustainable manner. For this reason, he noted, the country’s biodiversity must be protected.