Guyana’s sustainable forestry use gains int’l recognition – Ghana forestry team visits
A Technical team from Ghana visiting Guyana met with Minister of Natural Resources and the Environment Robert Persaud to learn more about its Chainsaw Milling Project funded by the European Union and implemented by the Forestry Training Centre Inc., with oversight by the Guyana’s Forestry Commission (GFC) and Iwokrama. They will also learn from Guyana’s system and ascertain what can be implemented in Ghana. The Ghanaians indicated that the tour comes as a result of their interest in the following; how the domestic lumber trade is organised from milling to the market and who are involved; the regulatory and legal framework concerning the trade including accessing timber for milling; the monitoring/tracking systems in place and who are involved; how the millers and domestic lumber traders’ association are organised or stakeholder platforms and their relationship with forestry authorities; how the millers and domestic lumber traders are supported by the government and their contribution to community development; types of milling equipment used to process lumber for the domestic market; potential impact of government initiatives such as REDD and LCD on the millers and lumber traders and how the government is addressing the impact and share with the Guyanese the lessons and outcomes from the joint TIDD-EU CSM process in addressing illegal chainsaw milling in Ghana.
Minister Persaud said whilst this project has been ongoing Guyana made provision for small loggers to have access to forest resources via State Forest Permissions as the issue of illegal forestry operations particularly by chainsaw operators was a threat faced acutely as such the emergence and rapid development of the chainsaw milling sub-sector created challenges for the GFC.
“The large number of people who rushed into the sub-sector, encouraged by the relatively low capital requirements and short product cycle were not familiar with the forestry legislation and guidelines governing access to forest resources or removal of forest produce…this led to conflict with legal loggers as well as with the forestry commission and other stakeholders,” Minister Persaud said. Additionally there was the urgent need for the GFC to ensure that chainsaw milling practices were aligned with the national level framework for sustainable forest management.
Minister Persaud said, in addressing these challenges the commission gave the chainsaws legal access to the forest resources and encouraged the formation of community logging associations thereby, placing them into legally registered groups which operate under a constitution and have democratically elected office holders.
“The forestry commission established a Community Development Programme (CDP) and employed several full time community development officers to support community based forestry enterprises by providing free legal advice and technical support as required,” Minister Persaud said. He added that other objectives of the programme included; catalysing the effort of donors who wish to support community based forestry enterprises rather than individuals and, providing vocational education and training to chainsaw operators and community based enterprises to develop their capability for generating more revenues while helping them comply with the national requirements for sustainable forest management.
“The CDP has now developed into one of the core programmes of the forestry commission…currently there are 62 Community Forestry Organisations with a combined direct membership of over 3000 members…they have access to over 320,000 hectares and forest land and their activities accounts for 20% of the country’s total national production,” Minister Persaud said. These logging activities contribute directly to the development of national policies through interaction with the forestry commission at the individual levels and collectively through the National Community Forestry Steering Committee which was established in 2011.
In addition Guyana’s effort at general sustainable development and the conservation and sustainable utilisation of forestry resources, has been renowned as it saw the development of its Low Carbon Development Strategy (LCDS) which is praised internationally and supported by Norway. mMembers of the visiting Ghana team said that they were delighted to be extended the warm and courteous visit to Guyana which allowed them to discover alternative methods in dealing with chainsaw milling as it was banned in their country in 1998. However, this did not work and continues to be a major threat to their efforts of sustainable utilisation of forestry resources.
They also said that from their interactions with Minister Persaud and other forestry stakeholders, they amassed a wealth of information that can be used and implemented in Ghana. The Chainsaw Milling Project as it is called locally is in-sync with Guyana’s LCDS which aims to facilitate high-potential low-carbon sectors which includes fruits and vegetables, aquaculture, sustainable forestry and wood processing. The objectives of the project are to reduce poverty and promote viable livelihoods in forestry-dependent communities, reduce occurrences of illegal logging and promote the conservation and sustainable management of tropical forests.
The project also covers sustainable resource management, livelihood issues and by extension climate change as in recent years forestry activities and the use of forestry resources have become central in the development plans of small states with large forest cover such as Guyana. Ghana and Guyana in 2009 entered into a bilateral relation to share in discourse and formulation of policies in the context of illegal chainsaw lumbering as the EU - funded project seeks to regulate such activities in an effort to ensure they meet legal and international requirements.