The Global Witness Report is somewhat misleading on the deforestation rate
I am an international forestry consultant who has lived in Guyana whilst working for the Iwokrama International Centre on an International Tropical Timber Organization (ITTO) project. I also have experience in Canada and several Latin American and Caribbean countries. More recently, I was the lead consultant who worked for Iwokrama on its assessment of Forest Law Enforce-ment and Governance practices in Guyana for the Norwegian Government. I therefore have a good understanding of forestry in Guyana.
Unfortunately, the report by Global Witness does not tell the entire truth and therefore is misleading to some extent. Somebody who reads the report would understand that 0.45% was considered as the deforestation rate for Guyana at the signing of the agreement. In fact this is an agreed reference level which also takes into account the average deforestation rate of tropical countries (0.6%). It is also true that the assumed deforestation rate for Guyana in the agreement (0.3%) was too high. But that specific information and figure is not in the Global Witness report.
The agreement established an agreed reference level which is a middle point between deforestation in tropical countries and deforestation in Guyana. The 0.45% is an average between both, and taking into account a rate of 0.3% for Guyana that we know now was incorrect. But even if the agreement had considered a 0% deforestation rate for Guyana (the real one for the period was 0.02% according to the recent Pöyry assessment), the reference measure established for the first period would still be 0.3% (due to the partial consideration of deforestation in all other tropical countries as well, which is fair), well above the actual deforestation rate of 0.06% for the first year of the agreement.
Also, it is not correct to suggest that baselines should consider only historical trends.
Actually baselines also consider expected developments, therefore the baseline for the agreement cannot be based exclusively on the existing or past deforestation rate.
The agreement also says that the UNFCCC Conference of the Parties will be setting the reference levels, and this reference measure is temporary. I think the reference measure should be changed as soon as possible by the two countries, based on the recent study which found a 0.02% deforestation rate for the 1990-2009 period (the period previous to the agreement), but that will not make a significant change on the subject of Guyana’s compliance with the agreement, for the reasons stated above. The new temporary reference measure would then be 0.31% (the average between the 0.02% Guyanese rate until 2009 and the 0.6% tropical countries rate).
International Forestry Consultant