By Kurt Campbell
[www.inewsguyana.com]– Individual Loggers and several Logging Associations in Region Ten – Linden, Kwakwani, Ituni – have thrown their support behind Chinese logging company – Bai Shan Lin [BSL]; saying the company has done a lot to improve their economic standing.
Bai Shan Lin has been accused of exploitation and indiscriminate logging; a claim that has been refuted at length by the Guyana Forestry Commission (GFC) and the Company itself.
In the face of calls for the company to be shut down, scores of loggers travelled from Region Ten and converged at the Umana Yana; voicing their disagreement with such demands as they pointed to the positive impacts Bai Shan Lin has made.
Among the associations present were: Region Ten Forest Producers Association, Arima Forest and Agriculture Producers Association, Ituni small Loggers Association, /kwakwani Natural Resource Association and the Upper Berbice Forest and Agriculture Producers Association.
It was noted that small loggers in the region have benefited largely by selling logs to BSL and from the market which it has opened up for the now popular log – Wamara.
One Logger said the input of foreign investors was needed to develop the communities in which they operate and scaring them away will only do harm to Guyanese.
Some loggers also requested that the Company to repair roads they have contributed in destroying and make contributions to the social livelihood, health and education of citizens working for them.
Loggers say they anticipate a brighter future with law abiding foreign investors.
Meanwhile, Stakeholder in the Forestry Sector, Colin Bynoe said the company’s involvement in Kwakwani over the last months have seen hundreds of millions investment.
“Kwakwani is buzzing with economic activity because of the Chinese,” he said; adding that “Region Ten needs investment like it needs fresh air.”
He said that loggers are expected to meet with Bai Shan Lin to discuss better market prices for logs sold to them.
Another Logger, Charles Tom said that since Bai Shan Lin began operating in Guyana it has been nothing less than cooperative. He said the company has made the unpopular Warama log popular and gave local loggers a new lease on their logging life.
Tom recognized too that the GFC is “the most diligent and outstanding semi –autonomous government agency” and said nothing should be feared.
Tom said while the company can remain the administration must ensure that labour laws are respected, at least 50% of employees are Guyanese, a new social contract with the community should be developed and small loggers should be given easier access to duty free concessions.