New Unit launched to track illegal mining, deforestation

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By Kurt Campbell

Natural Resources and Environment Minister, Robert Persaud. [iNews' Photo]
Natural Resources and Environment Minister, Robert Persaud. [iNews’ Photo]
[www.inewsguyana.com] – Guyana’s first Geospatial Information Management Unit has been officially launched at an event on Thursday, April 10.

The expectation and aim is that the Unit, using Geographical Information Systems (GIS), will boost existing efforts to track changes in deforestation, legal and illegal mining, silting conservancies, breaches and other illegal activities in relation to Guyana’s natural resources.

There was much talk of improved sharing of information among natural resources agencies such as: the Guyana Forestry Commission, the Guyana Lands and Surveys Commission, the Guyana Geology and Mines Commission and the Ministry of Natural Resources and the Environment.

More particularly, the five member Unit, comprising of a Manager, IT Specialist and three GIS Analyst will be tasked with providing information on monitoring, regulations and compliance; general management, integration, documentation and dissemination of spatial data; conduct accuracy and consistency checks on data and designing and developing spatial database among other others.

Speaking at the launch was Commissioner of the GFC James Singh, Commissioner of the GLSC Doorga Persaud and GGMC’s Commissioner Rickford Vieira. All three Commissioners indicated the support of their agencies to the unit and noted their anticipation to commence work.

At the launching, from L - R: Minister Persaud, China’s Ambassador to Guyana Zhang Limin  and Commissioner of the GGMC, Rickford Vieira. [iNews' Photo]
At the launching, from L – R: Minister Persaud, China’s Ambassador to Guyana Zhang Limin and Commissioner of the GGMC, Rickford Vieira. [iNews’ Photo]
Meanwhile, Natural Resources and Environment Minister Robert Persaud spoke of the potential of the unit to boast the already existing ‘even handed approach’ to ensure enforcement of local laws and compliance with regulations by all parties, both local and international.

He discredited comments which sought to suggest that there were special consideration given to foreign investors in Guyana’s Natural Resources Sector, while pointing to the willingness by all investors to ensure compliance.

He recalled the newly drafted Forest Act, completion of the National Land Use Policy and the development of new regulation for the Energy Protection Agency.

Persaud said it was important to ensure that all technology available is utilized since the human resource is insufficient to monitor Guyana’s vast territory adding that such technology will provide real time information in relation to what is happening on the ground.

Moreover, China’s Ambassador to Guyana Zhang Limin spoke of his government’s support for such a move by the Guyana Government. He said with Guyana’s rich natural resources, it is important to ensure it was protected and sustained.

Today’s event also saw the signing of a GIS Policy Contract between Geotech Vision and the Guyana Geology and Mines Commission.

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