[www.inewsguyana.com] – The executive committee of the Guyana Human Rights Association (GHRA) has issued a statement expressing its concern about what it says is an absence of democratic oversight in the mining and forestry sectors.
The body has called for greater vigilance in these sectors. “Guyana’s rivers and forests hold the key to the survival of the society as we know it. Yet Guyanese citizens know next to nothing about how wisely or efficiently these vital sectors are being managed” the GHRA said in the statement, adding that “the recent publication (SN 25/10) with respect to the REDD+ programme illustrates how little we know.”
The GHRA said it was also concerned that matters so vital to Guyana’s future are being ring-fenced against effective democratic oversight by opaque language and complex processes.
It added that the revelation that mining was responsible for 93% of de-forestation in Guyana in 2012 seems astounding.
“While virtually everything about mining generates unease, it still comes as a shock to learn the extent to which the sector is out of control.”
The Association added that the draft REDD+ Report containing this information also points out that between 2011–2012 there was a 25% increase in de-forestation rates, carrying Guyana into the zone where financial penalties begin to eat into the payments Guyana can expect from Norway.
Most of the devastation, the Report states, is to be found alongside rivers and roads, suggesting that forest degradation is the result of small-scale mining.
“One has to make that assumption because of the unvarnished nature of the information made available, are we to understand that the official forestry sector only accounts for 7% of de-forestation? Can we expect more detailed information, for example, on how much the Rusal operations in Kwakwani, or the revival of manganese mining in the North-West, or the Chinese forestry concessions contribute to this alarming rate of de-forestation? Who is building the roads to remote concessions and how much do they contribute to undermining – literally – the REDD+ programme? This information is not readily available. Too few people know and even fewer of those who provide official information are trusted enough to be believed.”
The body made it clear that it was is not challenging the validity of the figures, much less defending the “free-for-all in the mining sector.”