By Kurt Campbell
[www.inewsguyana.com] – The Guyana Forestry Commission (GFC) has once again defended the operations of Chinese logging company – Bai Shan Lin – in the face of persistent allegations of irregularities even as it boasts of robust monitoring mechanism to stem illegalities.
At a two hour press conference this afternoon (Monday, August 18), Forest Commissioner James Singh made it clear that “there is nothing to hide” as he responded to scores of questions following a presentation to clarify what he described misinformation in some sections of the media.
He pointed out that the management of the sector is based on principles of sustainable forest management and while the company [Bai Shan Lin] would have had infractions “it is not a cause for serious concern or has the potential to compromise forest sustainability.”
Singh enlightened that the infractions are merely procedural and poses no significant damage to the environment. He also expressed confidence in the monitoring mechanisms in place even as he pointed to the independent annual audits.
He reiterated that Bai Shan Lin is allowed to do limited logging to recover 25% of its expenses under its State Forestry Exploratory Permit.
“The forest is not being given away to investors, it’s a carefully regulated process,” Singh assured.
The Commissioner, who was backed up by a team from the Commission, said there was no basis for the argument that there is overharvesting and rapid deforestation.
“We have effective traceability, efficient real time monitoring and an efficient database,” he noted as he continued to repeatedly dispel the accusation of illegal logging.
There are reportedly three layers of checks that are conducted before a container is closed for export by GFC.
Responding directly to the accusation that Bai Shan Lin was trucking at nights because the logs were being stolen, Singh said “Trucking is done at nights not because it’s being stolen… there is less traffic and less wear and tear.”
He said too that the pictures showing a log yard with stock piles of logs which were alleged to be all of Bai Shan Lin’s is not the case. He clarified that some 14 operators stock pile logs in the location.
The Commissioner went onto clarify, one after the other, the misconceptions which has spiraled into a national debate.
Among the points made in Singh’s presentation were that Bai Shan Lin has legal access to a total of 627,072 hectares.
He cautioned too that pictures from different locations cannot be tied to any operation unless it is geo-referenced; adding that storage of logs is not testimony of the forest being harvested unsustainably.
Even as the Commissioner defended Bai Shan Lin, he assured too that all other operators, both local and foreign, are monitored without favor.