Guyana gains international recognition for forest management system


…timber exports from Guyana to now receive high-ranking certification

Guyana has achieved another milestone in its forest management record, with the Ministry of Natural Resources announcing that from henceforth all timber exports from Guyana will be accompanied by Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC) international labels and trademarks.

According to the ministry on Monday, all forest management certificates issued by the Guyana National Forest Certification System (GNFCS), which ensures the exports from Guyana are of international standards, will have PEFC approval.

“Guyanese timber and timber products certified under the GNFCS will now bear PEFC International labels and trademarks. This provides clear evidence to local and international buyers that the certified forest operator’s management practices meet global environmental, social, and economic standards,” the Ministry said.

“It also demonstrates compliance with national and international legal forest requirements, including fundamental International Labour Organisation (ILO) conventions that govern the rights of workers and the unauthorised use of child labour. This assurance extends to the environmental, social, economic, and legal requirements and protection of rights throughout the forest supply chain under the EU Timber Regulation, the US Lacey Act, and the Australian Illegal Logging Prohibition Bill.”

The ministry noted that Guyana has a national wood tracking system that has existed since the early 2000s. Additionally, there is a dual wood tracking system with both electronic and manual components, existing on a national scale.

It was noted that since the GNFCS drew on this existing wood tracking system and the national code of practice for forest management that was developed by the Guyana Forestry Commission (GFC), PEFC’s endorsement of Guyana’s wood tracking system is also an endorsement of these existing systems.

According to the Natural Resources Ministry, improvements will also be made to this dual tracking system under the Voluntary Partnership Agreement (VPA) signed with the European Union (EU).

“Some forest stations have internet access and electronic tag scanners; however, stations in remote locations still operate on a purely manual basis with staff having to visually verify tag numbers with removal permits.”

“Under the VPA, there is the intention to further build capacity, enabling the phased implementation of a fully electronic system which will greatly increase efficiency and offer greater credibility to the wood-tracking system. In the interim, however, the dual system will remain functional,” the Ministry explained.

Meanwhile, the GFC noted that it is working on training local auditors to work with the certification bodies under the GNFCS. This will reduce the need for auditors to be brought from overseas, in order to certify timber exports.

“Additionally, the GNFCS complements other national initiatives which the Government of Guyana has embarked on for several years, with an example as the European Union’s Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade Voluntary Partnership Agreement.”

“It is also one of the priority areas under Sustainable Forestry in the Low Carbon Development Strategy (LCDS) 2030. For achieving yet another milestone, the ministry extends its deep appreciation to all forestry stakeholders, the local PEFC working group and the GFC team,” the Ministry also said.

Last year, Natural Resources Minister Vickram Bharrat and European Commissioner for International Partnerships Jutta Urpilainen signed a roadmap for the implementation of the Guyana-European Union (EU) Forest Partnership to manage Guyana’s forests and promote the forest bioeconomy. This roadmap establishes the EU and Guyana’s commitment to reaching a set number of targets by 2030.

These include: maintaining 12.5 million hectares of sustainably managed forests; expanding protected and conserved forests to 30 per cent of terrestrial and marine species; increasing restored forest to 200,000 hectares; increasing the number of forest-related decent jobs; and maintaining the rate of deforestation of natural forests below 0.01 per cent per annum.

The Forest Partnership and the Forest Law Enforcement, Governance, and Trade (FLEGT) and the Voluntary Partnership Agreements (VPA) are expected to help Guyana enhance its forest bioeconomy attract public and private investments while contribute to the climate and biodiversity objectives, and reinforce the rights of local communities and Indigenous people.

In November 2022 during the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP27), Guyana was one of five countries to sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for a Forest Partnership with the European Commission. This worked as an acknowledgment of the challenges posed to forests by climate change and development needs and the opportunity to position forests to play their full economic, social, and environmental roles.

In addition to its rich biodiversity and ecosystem, Guyana’s total forest covers some 18.4 million hectares, stores more than 19.5 gigatonnes of carbon, and removes some 154 million tonnes of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere annually.