By Jomo Paul
[www.inewsguyana.com] – President Donald Ramotar has lashed out at the international donor community for neglecting its duties and not providing funding for the Iwokrama International Centre for Rainforest Conservation and Development which has hit a rough financial path over the past months.
The Iwokrama International Centre (IIC) was established in 1996 under a joint mandate from the Government of Guyana and the Commonwealth Secretariat to manage the Iwokrama forest.
The centre is unique in that it provides dedicated site to test the concept of a truly sustainable forest – where conservation, environmental balance and economic use can be mutually reinforcing.
Addressing a packed audience at the International Conference Centre at Liliendaal as Guyana observed International Day of Forests, President Ramotar noted that the international community should see it fit to donate towards the longevity of the centre given its importance to deforestation research in Guyana.
“With very few exceptions, the global community simply has not supported the activities of Iwokrama and we have a situation where the government of Guyana has to inject resources to allow for its continuity,” he belaboured.
He said that consequent to this lack of funding, the Iwokrama Project is in “deep jeopardy.”
“I spoke at a United Nations subcommittee last September…and I challenged them to put their money where their mouths are because the International Community has a tendency to lecture us about all of these things but here is a case where Guyana has placed in their hands something that will bring real value to all of the people of the world…and they are now not supporting it as we thought they would,” he lamented.
The President also affirmed that the government will not be following the trend set by other countries whereby forests are being levelled for other economic pursuits.
“Even though the government is constantly bombarded by financially sound investors to access forests land for oil palm industries, large scale agriculture and other lucrative projects, that will bring short and even medium term benefits, this will not happen if it entails large scale clearing of forest lands. We have other lands that can be used for these projects and we will not use our forest lands for that purpose,” said Ramotar.
He pointed out that such actions could have devastating long term effects, even though it may have some short term benefits.
Meanwhile, Natural Resources and Environment Minister, Robert Persaud remarked that Guyana’s forest has not only been about its environmental value.
He pointed out that despite Guyana reaping the benefits of the natural resource physically, revenue is also earned by way of the preservation of the natural resource.
Persaud said that stakeholders in this sector must be have a complete understanding of the importance of it and regard it with such.