Persaud confirms Guyana at risk of losing US$20M from Norway

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Environment Minister, Robert Persaud along with other representatives at the November 1 Press Conference.
Environment Minister, Robert Persaud along with other representatives at the November 1 Press Conference.

[www.inewsguyana.com]Guyana is at risk of losing at least US$20 million from its Norway Fund deal. This follows a new report, which shows increased levels of deforestation in 2012.

Under the five-year forest-saving deal with Norway, Guyana needed to monitor the amount of the forest cut down, and to keep it at a level agreed to by the two countries.

Once Guyana kept its end of the deal, it would bank US$250 million, but now a chunk of that could be lost. The reason is that under the agreement with Norway, deforestation was set at 0.07 percent but a monitoring and evaluation exercise found that last year that the level of deforestation was 0.079 percent, which was more than allowed under the agreement between Guyana and Norway.

At a press conference on Friday November 1, Environment Minister Robert Persaud explained that the 3rd National Report on Deforestation from January 2012 to October 2013 has to be verified first before confirmation on how much money Guyana will lose.

“If we say that what we have is accurate and what is right, it would be in the range of US$20 million.”

He added that this verification will be done by a University contracted by the Guyana Forestry Commission, along with an independent team from Norway. The use of new technology, namely satellite imaging, helped to detect the increased levels of deforestation, the Minister said.

However, he would not agree that the absence of such accurate technology at the time of the signing of the agreement could mean that the two parties did not have a clear picture of the state of the country’s forests.

The Minister said that 36, 000 acres of forest cut down in 2012 is nothing to be alarmed about since the country’s total forest cover, including Amerindian lands and protected areas, amounts to over 45 million acres.

“It is below what has been set as the maximum with the Kingdom of Norway. It’s just that there are some graduated levels that if you hit that threshold you see a reduction in what your payment can be,” Persaud explained.

One of the main factors driving deforestation in Guyana is mining, and the Minister emphasised that the government is interested in robust legislation and the enforcement of related guidelines to manage both mining and forestry, and the management of all natural resources for that matter.

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