FAO steps up for Small loggers Association
Ten forested communities, among them Muritaro, Aranaputa, and Bethany, yesterday signed the support US$50,000 agreement between the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO), the Guyana Forestry Commission and the Forestry Training Centre Incorporated under the National Forest Programme Facility.
The three-year project, “Capacity Building of Small Loggers’ Associations” is not only geared at forest resources but provide training for villagers to generate income in alternative ventures such as craft and poultry.
According to Lystra Fletcher-Paul, Representative of FAO, this support agreement is part of FAO’s ongoing support to government to build capacity within the forestry sector in pursuit of sustainable forest management.
The objective of the agreement is to enhance the capacity of Small Loggers’ Associations in Guyana to meaningfully participate in national forest dialogue.
This will be achieved by building their technical capacity in forest management and by developing their capacity to undertake community based enterprises to improve their livelihoods.
Aligning these initiatives with national forest management objectives and standards is also part of the programme.
She posited that the initial support will focus on ten associations while it is expected that by the end of the project a total of 30 associations will benefit from support funding.
It was noted that specific areas of support for capacity building identified by the associations include forestry policy and law, forest management, dendrology, timber grading, use of computers, agriculture, and handicraft.
Fletcher-Paul stated that the support is even timelier as International Year of Forest is being observed.
In addition, the support agreement is an important initiative in promoting sustainable forest management in support of the Low Carbon Development Strategy.
Protecting and managing the forest today is no longer so much a technical issue, but a policy and governance issue, necessitating civil society participation in decision making, adequate legislation and law enforcement, she stated.
Furthermore, despite national and international efforts, FAO has estimated that the annual loss of forests during the last decade amounted to approximately 13 million hectares worldwide.
Fletcher-Paul added that since the 1980s, concerns over deforestation and related phenomena in the forestry sector have led to intergovernmental dialogue aimed at conservation, management and sustainable development of forest worldwide.
“As a response to this dialogue and the resolutions on forests, the National Forest Programme Facility was established in 2001 in recognition of the essential role of national forest programmes in addressing forest sector issues.”
The facility supports active stakeholder participation in the development and implementation of National Forest Programme with a focus on capacity building and information sharing at country level, through the provision of grants directly to stakeholders in partner countries.
The Facility is hosted by FAO in Rome, and has established partnerships with 70 countries and four sub-regional organisations globally.
Since its establishment, more than 700 small grants were allocated, based on national priorities, agreed by the stakeholders, in 80 partner countries and regional organisations.
Minister of Agriculture Robert Persaud stated that about a decade ago communities were concerned about big companies exploiting forest resources within their boundaries leaving them with little or no financial security.
However, this scenario has changed and communities control their forest resources, leading to income generation.
At last year’s National Toshaos Conference concerns about forestry regulations, forest resources and forest conservation were raised. Minister Persaud emphasised that those concerns have helped to create the training courses the Small Loggers’ Association would be exposed too.
He noted that monies coming from the World Bank concerning the Forest Carbon Facility was slothful. In addition Guyana has only received US$70M thus far under the Memorandum of Understanding signed between Guyana and the Kingdom of Norway.