The first phase of the government’s housing initiative is expected to provide lumber producers with a chance to maximise the promotion of lesser used species (LUS) of timber on the local market.
Minister of Natural Resources Raphael Trotman on Monday, noted that the initial housing drive will likely be focused in Regions Two, Three, Four, Five, Six and Ten which have an abundance of LUS.
The Minister was speaking at an awareness workshop, hosted by the Guyana Forestry Commission (GFC) and the Forest Product Development and Marketing Council of Guyana (FPDMC) to promote the use of LUS among producers, contractors, architects, and other stakeholders.
“Lesser used species being utilised in this initiative will definitely reduce the cost of each unit thereby allowing for overall reduction in project costs,” Minister Trotman pointed out.
Each house constructed under the government’s housing initiative will require an estimated six cubic meters for external use and three cubic meters for internal use, “Thus, resulting in hundreds of thousands of dollars in savings,” Minister Trotman noted.
Guyana’s forest has some 1,000 species of logs, but only 30 per cent is utilised for commercial purposes. Included are species like the world-renowned greenheart and purpleheart which are common on the local market.
“It is therefore imperative that we begin to utilise the comparable lesser used species and thus widen the range and variety of timber species which are harvested and are available,” Minister Trotman said.
The government is reviewing its housing policy, the Minister noted. The aim is to promote more use of LUS in government projects like housing and infrastructure.
Meanwhile, the private sector is calling on the government to ensure that there are changes to the national standards for specifications in the construction sector.
President of the Guyana Manufacturing and Services Association (GMSA), Shyam Nokta, noted that there needs to be “greater buy in for locally used timber products” by both the public and private sectors.
“We recognise that the public sector is probably the largest consumer and should therefore move towards giving priority to the use of locally produced products including lesser known species,” Nokta said.
Nokta has given the GSMA’s commitment to embrace the use and promotion of LUS. However, he called on the government to provide incentives to further promote value adding and downstream processing in the forest sector for local operators.
Chairman of the board of GFC, Jocelyn Dow, has given the board’s commitment towards creating an enabling environment for those in the forest sector. “I want you to hold our feet to the fire. You must demand of us what is needed for you to do a better job,” Dow told the stakeholders present.
Meanwhile, Minister of Business, Dominic Gaskin, noted that the workshop is an important and significant initiative towards the development of value added industries in the forestry sector.
“I am firmly committed to finding solutions and to removing some of the obstacles and barriers that have kept this industry back,” Minister Gaskin said. The Minister charged stakeholders to work towards making Guyana the wood products’ capital of “this particular part of the world”.
The GFC over the years has been advocating for the use of LUS in government and private construction projects. Minister Trotman charged the workshop to develop affirmative action towards the utilisation of LUS.