[www.inewsguyana.com] – Forest operations of concession holders in Guyana are governed by stringent forest management guidelines that are based on international best practice and conservative levels of extraction informed by the precautionary principle.
These are clearly outlined in various Codes of Practice and Guidelines for sustainable forest management and are developed to support the implementation of the Forest Act and the National Forest Policy. These documents and guideline are available to the public for information and reference.
One of the main principles applied by the Guyana Forestry Commission (GFC) in managing the harvesting by forest concessions, is the maximum allowable level of harvest for any given concession area. This level is based on a rotation cycle of harvest of 25, 40 or 60 years. This means that a forest concession can only harvest a clearly stipulated quota level from every 100 hectare area/block. The GFC, through its fields based monitoring, using the quota allocation process, national log tracking system, permitting and removal documentation system, and in transit checks, validate and verify the adherence of each concession with the set rules that must be complied with, include conformance with the set maximum harvest level.
The GFC forest monitoring system concludes that Bai Shan Lin and its Joint Venture Partners, in no case exceed the maximum allowable harvest level. The table below illustrates the range of unutilized quota in every case for each of the partners. Therefore, TIGI’s assertion of exploitation and indiscriminate is not substantiated by facts.
|Companies with which Bai Shan Lin has Joint Venture Arrangement||Maximum Sustainable Harvest Level (m3) for 2013||Production (m3) for 2013||Unutilized Quota||Maximum Sustainable Harvest Level (m3) for 2014||Production (m3) for 2014||Unutilized Quota|
|Haimorakabra Logging Co. TSA 01/11||8,866||7,390||17%||8,866||4,456||50%|
|Kwebana Wood Products Inc TSA 04/09||19,809||10,188||49%||19,809||0||100%|
|Puruni Wood Products Inc TSA 01/07||22,251||0||100%||22,251||5,528||75%|
|Wood Associated Industries Co. Ltd TSA 01/99||6,129||5,784||6%||6,129||0||100%|
The Guyana Forest Commission stands firm on the side of facts in any case that is presented for is assessment, within its mandate. In this regard, the statements of fact made by the GFC on the legitimacy of the company’s operation, its permission to harvest and export, are points of fact established by compliance with stated procedures, legislation and guidelines of the forest sector. It is a fact that the Company has been granted concession and has been operating with partner entities in keeping with Section 9, 15 and 16 of the Forest Act 2009. It is also a point of fact that the Company and its partner companies which are engaged in the export of forest produce are in receipt of valid export licenses which would have been granted following the set procedures of the forest sector. It is regrettable that TIGI proceeded to draw invalid conclusions when it cannot state a single instance of having made a request to the GFC for validation of its assertions that the company does not have permission to log and export, and is breaching the forest Act and the EPA Act.
The GFC wishes to advise that the operations of all forest concessions are in compliance with the forest Act. The contractual obligations of each forest concessions prescribe the level to which extraction and sustainable utilization of forest resources are to be done. Information on the harvest levels, the size and scale of Bai Shan Lin and is Joint Venture Partners, and the compliance of this company with the export licensing system and national log export policy, have been made public. We also wish to reiterate that the harvest levels of Bai Shan Lin as well as it Joint venture Partners are well below the maximum sustainable levels. In addition to the Company’s compliance with this safeguard, along with compliance with the other set provisions of the Forest Act and guidelines, the GFC has no legal basis to halt the Company’s operations. In actual fact, to engage in the halting of a company’s operation within proper legal basis, as in this case, would only expose the GFC to adverse litigation. A photograph or several photographs showing a log storage location of a concession does not provide legal basis for halting a company’s operations.
Further, the GFC are perturbed that assessment are being done on technical matters such as sustainable harvest levels, allowance of growth and yield models, and assessment of forest cover and canopy impacts, are being done by looking at photographs.
The GFC’s management of the forest sector fulfill the obligation require of the Forest Act and the Constitution, include the stipulations of Article 149J (2). Logging activities in Guyana are guided by strong forestry guidelines, such as the Code of Practice for Timber Harvesting. From previous and current studies of the forest sector, including annual assessment of forest area change, there has always been very low impact of logging activities on the forest. This is evident in the most recent report of the Monitoring and Reporting Verification System (MRVS) indicates that the forestry sector as a driver accounts for a mere 240 ha of deforestation and 113 ha of forest degradation annually. This low impact of forest related activities on the environment has been independently validated by several third party, independent audits, including audits under independent Forest Monitoring and as part of the reporting on forest management as part of Guyana REDD+ programme. These audits all conclude that Guyana has in place strong forest management systems, that in keeping with best practice and that ensure that the environment is protected and that the forest is sustainably managed. Along with other forest companies, Bai Shan Lin’s operations in the forest sector in no way adversely impact on the maintenance of the forest cover in Guyana. As such, TIGI claim of the forest is not being managed in a sustainable manner and in contravention to the Constitution is baseless.
It is noted that TIGI is calling for the GFC to ascertain if there are breaches of the forestry requirements by Bai Shan Lin. The GFC wishes to note that monitoring of forestry activities is a routine function and mandate of the GFC and one in which significant resources is dedicated. In this regard, the GFC wishes to point out that it has in place a wide network of monitoring outposts that allows for effective real time monitoring of forest operations. The GFC also has a complement of high caliber field staff that has the relevant resources to effectively monitor forest operations countrywide. Specifically in Region 10 area, the GFC has the following Monitoring Stations, some of which are 24 hour stations:
Collectively, these stations are manned by 50 forest officers and accompanying support staff. More specifically, Bai Shan Lin’s operation at Bissaruni, there is 10 resident forest officers and is support by the legality monitoring team that comprises approximately 12 forest officers. In addition periodic checks are done by the Internal Audit Unit of the GFC. Altogether these help to ensure that there is strong forest legality and forest governance at the concession level, including at Bai Shan Lin.
The GFC would like to emphasize that forest management in Guyana is conducted in keeping with strict adherence to the principle of sustainable development, and careful attention is placed on ensuring that ecosystems and the environment to support such ecosystems are maintained for future generations. In this regard, the forest sector of Guyana has brought and continues to support the social and economic livelihoods of local Guyanese, including at the community level. As the forest sector further develops the GFC commits to working with all stakeholders in ensuring that the forest resources of Guyana bring maximum benefit to our country.
Guyana’s natural Resources are the patrimony of all Guyanese. The Constitution of Guyana speaks of the sustainable utilization and protection of our natural resources. Guyana natural resources in particular and forestry and mining have continued to bring significant economic gains to the economy and the citizens of this country. The GFC have clear guidelines for the issuance of forest concessions and thus there is no discrimination of Guyanese to foreign investors as alluded by GTUC.
Additionally the forest sector of Guyana provides employment for approximately 20,000 local Guyanese. Bai Shan Lin Forest operations foreign work force is a minimal percentage to local employment again the assertion that foreign work force are given preference to local in false. Some sections of the local media have, over the past few weeks, undertaken a baseless attack on the forest sector and its operators, in a manner that has been insular and misleading. These attempts are based solely on photographs of logs stored in a Log Market. The GTUC has made it clear in its release that its assessment has been informed by the pictures, and that this concludes in no uncertain terms that logs stored in a Log Yard means that there is destruction of the forest. This analysis is reckless and without merit. The fact remains, as the President has pointed, that the operations of named foreign operators are in compliance with the law, are in keeping with maximum harvest levels and are exporting forest products having fulfilled the necessary license requirements. There to date remains no evidence of unsustainable logging, GTUC should reconsider its attempt at postulating
The Government of Guyana through the Guyana Forestry Commission in the interest of continuing transparency and full disclosure extends an invitation and other interested stakeholders to a full briefing session on their concerns.
Guyana Forestry Commission
August 16, 2014