Ecosystem services provided by Guyana’s forests valued at US$54B annually – Ali

An aerial view of Guyana's forest cover

President Dr Irfaan Ali has disclosed that the economic value of the ecosystem services provided by Guyana’s forests is estimated at between US$40B and US$54B annually.

He made this remark while delivering a virtual address at the signing of the Forest Partnership Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the European Union and the Guyana Government. This agreement would see Guyana benefitting from a €5 million grant to advance its efforts towards sustainable forest management and preservation.

President Ali has also said Guyana’s forests are a regional and global resource belonging to the expansive Guiana Shield, which covers some 2.7 million square kilometres and is one of the world’s largest remaining tropical rainforest blocks.

“Guyana’s forests provide critical environmental services, including carbon sequestration. They are mainly responsible for Guyana being among the handful of countries that are rated as net carbon sinks. With an estimated storage of 19.5 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent, the economic value of the ecosystem services which our forest alone provide has been estimated within US$40 to US$54 billion annually,” the President has posited.

Reflecting on Guyana’s strong stewardship of climate and the environment, the Guyanese Leader pointed out that Guyana has launched a visionary Low Carbon Development Strategy 2030.

“This strategy details how our forest and biodiversity can be maintained whilst the country expands green jobs. Transitioning the domestic energy supply to clean and renewable energy sources is adept to the impact of climate change,” he said.

The Forest Partnership between the European Union and Guyana has been facilitated on the margins of COP27, being held in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt.

“Guyana’s Low Carbon Development Strategy 2030 commits Guyana, among other objectives, to completing and implementing a voluntary partnership agreement under the European Union Forest Law Enforcement, Government and Trade Process that will permit the trade in legally forested and certified timber with European Members,” Ali added. “The Forest Partnership between Guyana and the European Union is timely, and underscores the strong commitment in continuing the bold ambition and innovative programme on climate, environment, and forests. Guyana therefore welcomes this forest partnership.”

The LCDS was first launched on June 8, 2009. The revised version was published in May 2010 and launched in March 2013. The new LCDS is intended to continue and build upon the work started in 2008. Between 2009 and 2015, Guyana earned US$212.52 million in forest service payments from Norway, to be invested in the LCDS. This has created low-carbon jobs, enabled Amerindian villages to receive legal titles for communal lands, rehabilitated the Cunha Canal to protect against flooding; and started to equip Amerindian and hinterland communities with renewable energy, digital infrastructure, and sustainable livelihood opportunities.

The LCDS 2030 seeks to create a new low-carbon economy in Guyana, by establishing incentives that value the world’s ecosystem services and promote these as an essential component of a new model of global development with sustainability at its core. In Guyana’s case, it is about harnessing the value of the country’s ecosystem services to build a long-term, low-carbon diversification opportunity.