Minister’s Remarks at The National Inception Workshop for the Development of the National Action Plan (NAP) for the Artisanal Small-Scale Gold Mining (ASGM) Sector in the Co-operative Republic of Guyana
The National Inception Workshop for the Development of the National Action Plan (NAP) for the Artisanal Small-Scale Gold Mining (ASGM) Sector in the Co-operative Republic of Guyana
Date: Tuesday, November 5, 2019
Time: 09:00 hours
Venue: Herdmanston Lodge, 65 Peter Rose Street, Queenstown
Dr. Shamdeo Persaud, Chief Medical Officer, Ministry of Public Health, Ms. Jewel Batchasingh, Director (ag) of the Basel Convention Regional Centre for Training and Technology for the Caribbean, Ms. Malgorzata Stylo, Associate Programme Management Officer, United Nations, Environment Programme, Deputy Registrar of the Pesticides and Toxic Chemicals Control Board, Ms Diane McDonald, Deputy Commissioner, Guyana Geology and Mines Commission (GGMC) and Representatives from the Environmental Protection Agency, Guyana Water Inc. and Conservation International – Guyana. Ms Aiesha Williams, Country Manager, World Wildlife Fund – Guyana, heads of the Guyana Women Miners Organisation (GWMO), Guyana Gold and Diamonds Miner Association (GGDMA) and the National Mining Syndicate (NMS), members of the National Working Group on the Minamata Convention, consultants of the Guyana NAP project, other key stakeholders and partners, members of the media, good morning.
Six years ago, on October 10, 2013 in Kumamoto, Japan, Guyana joined with other countries, and made a global pledge to control and address the use of mercury and committed to protect the environment and human health, for the current and future generations of people of the world. Our signing on to the Minamata Convention on Mercury and subsequent ratification in September 2014, were the formative actions we took in recognition of our commitment to sustainable development through fostering safer communities and healthier people.
The mining industry has been in existence for centuries and has built the foundation of Guyana’s development. In Guyana, the artisanal, small- and medium-scale gold-mining sector is significant to the national economy. The ASGM sector accounted for 6.1 per cent of Guyana’s GDP (gold and diamonds). In 2018, the sector not only generated approximately 33.6 percent of the foreign exchange earned from gold production of 361,971 ounces and also proved to be the main source of employment and revenue for hinterland communities, including indigenous ones, thereby providing direct employment for over 18,000 and approximately 30,000 indirectly. The reality is that mercury is used in our ASGM sector. Mercury, its use and its effects, has become a buzz topic and high on the national agenda of the Government of Guyana. We can neither postpone or avoid the discussion and action to be taken.
The Minamata Convention on Mercury is the only global legally binding multilateral agreement of the twenty-first century that focuses proportionally on the protection of the environment and human health. Its entry into force comes at the pivotal time as the world recommitted to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals and it aligns with the Ministry’s Responsible Mining Initiative and the country’s Green Living strategy. The Government of Guyana remains committed to implementing practical, effective and efficient measures for the reduction and elimination, where feasible, of the use of mercury in the ASGM sector and materialisation of H.E President David Granger’s 2027 commitment. The Minamata Convention, and the completion of our National Action Plan for the ASGM sector, inform and complement our efforts for the achievement of Agenda 2030.
Nationally, through the participation of the National Working Group on the Minamata Convention on Mercury, we encourage the active and invaluable participation of all our key partners in the completion of our NAP. We envisaged the NAP project will feed directly into our current mercury projects including the GEF GOLD’s A Supply Chain Approach to Eliminating Mercury in Guyana’s Artisanal and Small-Scale Gold Mining-(ASGM) Sector: El Dorado Gold Jewellery – Made in Guyana executed by Conservation International Guyana and vice versa. Through our Harmonisation Initiative, we will continue to work collaboratively to coordinate our mercury plans, projects and activities in the areas of Policy and Regulation, Health Aspects, Environmental Health, Occupation, Health and Safety, Monitoring and Evaluation, Technology, Markets, Education, Awareness and Communication and Restoration.
So today, maintaining our momentum and bringing to fruition H.E, President Granger’s commitment, we are making resolute progress in promoting sustainable development, and strengthening of global environmental governance, with the completion of our NAP for the ASGM sector. The completion of our NAP is a declaration of our national, regional and global commitment to making mercury history, and robustly combatting the effects of mercury use; while safeguarding the health and livelihoods of our people and their future generations and protecting the environment.
These objectives are pivotal components in our national objectives. We are cognizant of the important role of our ASGM miners, and will continue to engage them and all key actors, across all scales, from the initial discussion, to the drafting of the document and its implementation. We will ensure that we capture their realities, challenges and incorporate their institutional knowledge for the completion of a comprehensive document and guarantee its implementation and the achievement of our mutually shared objectives.
We want to thank all our stakeholders, locally, nationally, regionally and internationally for a fruitful partnership and getting us this far. We want to especially acknowledge the salient role of the miners in the economic structure of Guyana and our continuous development as a country. Our aim is to work with you to find common grounds in our transition to safer, cleaner, assessible, affordable mercury-free alternatives in mining, while ensuring there is minimal to no disruption to your livelihoods, threat to health and degradation to the environment we depend on for our living. As a government, we have an obligation and responsibility to you and the protection of your health and livelihoods remain our first priority!
Thank you and may God bless you!
Hon. Raphael G.C Trotman remarks – Signing of Memorandum of Understanding for the Management of the Importation of Mercury into the Cooperative Republic of Guyana
Click the image below to view the remarks of the Minister of Natural Resources Hon. Raphael G.C Trotman at the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding for the Management of the Importation of Mercury into the Cooperative Republic of Guyana.
The MoU was signed between the Ministry of Natural Resources, Guyana Geology and Mines Commission, Environmental Protection Agency and Pesticide and Toxic Chemicals Control Board.
Follow the link below to view the MoU
Remarks by Hon. Raphael G.C Trotman at the GGMC Awards Ceremony to celebrate Mining Week 2019 – Monday August 26, 2019
Remarks by Hon. Raphael G.C Trotman at the
GGMC Awards Ceremony to celebrate Mining Week 2019
Savannah Suite, Pegasus Hotel
Monday August 26, 2019
Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Guyana Geology and Mines Commission (GGMC), Mr. Stanley Ming, Commissioner of the GGMC, Mr. Newell Dennison, Directors of the GGMC Board, Representatives of Guyana Gold and Diamond Miners Association, Guyana Women Miners Organization and the National Mining Syndicate and other stakeholders in the sector, staff of the GGMC and the Ministry of Natural Resources, members of the Media, a warm welcome to you.
I feel a deep sense of pride and consider it a privilege to be addressing you at this Award Ceremony, which also marks the opening of the Mining Conference that will be held here over the next two days. I believe the theme for Mining week 2019: “Fostering Respectability and Responsibility in Mining Conduct’’ is quite fitting and I am happy that the GGMC has chosen it since I believe it speaks to the kind of sector we envision in Guyana and also reminds us that mining can be a “respectable” vocation when done in a “responsible” manner. We are not unmidful of the hardships, challenges and even, at times, disappointments, but I intend, in my remarks this morning, not to dwell on the challenges or dark stains some insist on placing on the industry and it’s regulation, but instead, to look at the positive developments we have witnessed in a few short years. The gains we have made in the mining sector are quite impressive.
We have come a long way from the days of river mining when the only means to recover gold was by diving down under the river waters, using only a suction hose to breathe, then digging by hand with a hand spade, filling bags and sending the earth back to the surface. This was an extremely dangerous endeavor and many divers lost their lives. So too, have we progressed from the shovel and battel only, to the excavators and 100 tonne trucks feeding automated crusher systems. In the 150 plus years of organised mining in Guyana, the industry has grown leaps and bounds and continues to rapidly expand, without losing efficacy and relevance even as the black gold of oil is about to flow. So much so, that I am extremely confident that oil will draw parallel, but never replace mining for its importance and value to the people and culture of Guyana.
Today the mining sector has become more efficient and effective beginning at the exploration stage where cutting edge technologies have helped eliminate some of the risks associated with prospecting. Lidar surveys, satellite imagery, improved geophysical and geochemical analysis allows for multi- element recognition which means that even before one spade of earth is mined, a miner can be assured of the potential returns on his and her investment. I know, we still have many traditional ‘Porknockers’ and small miners in the sector and we continue to appreciate their sacrifice which adds significantly to gold declarations.
I believe we are getting better at what we do in the sector. The Guyana Geology and Mines Commission, as the main regulator of the mining industry has begun to embrace a technological transformation that has seen the development and testing of an E-services platform that will significantly improve the application process for mining lands. Further, I am told that the Information Technology and Communications Division (ITC) is working on several initiatives to improve the internal efficiency and interconnectedness of GGMC Divisions including enabling access to interconnected information from external agencies, the creation of a Mobile Information System Platform to more effectively track and report on issues encountered in the field as well as a mineral processing survey tool to collect and analyze how miners are making use of improved recovery techniques. Expanding payment options to include Mobile Money and PayPal Online Services to provide more options to pay for services at the GGMC are new initiatives planned for the near future.
The mining sector is also becoming more environmentally conscious. In the early 90’s there were few regulations governing environmental management. In fact, then the rivers were considered as suitable dumping grounds for waste materials coming out of mining. Today, we are more aware that clean water is one of our valuable natural resources and it is our responsibility to keep both the rivers and the forest in a manner that allows them to retain value now and for future generations. We have also made significant progress in reducing the use of mercury in small scale mining by working with our partner agencies to closely monitor mercury imports and use. Just last Friday, at the Ministry’s pre-mining week symposium, I was pleased to hear of the potential of integrating the collection and use of mining and forestry data to better monitor our resources and to now include considerations for our water resources as well.
Our regulatory framework is also improving. We are revising the mining act, to allow for better management of our mineral resources and restructuring the GGMC to focus more on geological and mining activities. That contract has been signed and the inception report is expected within a week.
We were also able to significantly expand access to lands for small miners by facilitating four (4) mining lotteries in Georgetown, Mahdia, Port Kaituma and Bartica and they have reciprocated. I also wish to announce that preparations are in place for a mining lottery to be held in Mahdia in the coming weeks. For the first half of this year, the mining and quarrying sector is estimated to have grown by 2.6 percent. This was fueled by a 4.4 percent expansion in the gold sector. Further, every month for 2019 has shown increased declarations above what was projected, and all miners must be congratulated for this, particularly given the extended wet season we experienced this year, which, usually limits production.
I believe some of our larger producers will be awarded later in the conference. Today especially, we have every reason to be happy. The price of gold has held steadily at over US$1500 for the past week and is expected to rise even further in the coming if the world’s largest economies continue on a confrontational path, and other exogenous shock reverberate globally. While we take no pleasure in profiting from the agonies of others, we are not unmidful of the goodwill that is flowing our way, and we are very grateful.
We tend to focus primarily on gold when referring to the mining industry in Guyana, since it contributes greatly to our economy. However, mining in Guyana is more than gold, and in the future, I envision more emphasis being placed on “other minerals” as well as bauxite, sand, stone, and rare earths, as our economy expands and Guyana becomes better known and more attractive to investors. Even now, the industry needs to be diversified even as we experience a rapidly expanding construction industry with the need for construction minerals and industrial minerals to support our domestic market.
We believe forums such as these are key to ensuring that the mining industry in Guyana is in constantly need of growth and change. The industry is changing, and we must change and adapt new and sustainable approaches as well. I also wish to remind us of His Excellency’s adumbration of this administration’s five (5) pronged policy for mining, which he outlined in September 2015, and which, I recently shared at the GGMC Luncheon held in July. These are –
(1) Improved infrastructure development.
(2) Improved security and human safety.
(3) Improved health and environmental security with a mandatory process of land reclamation and reforestation.
(4) Improved law enforcement.
(5) A modern, safe and technologically advanced gold mining sector.
We can declare without fear of successful contradiction that we, both the Ministry of Natural Resources and GGMC, working in tandem, have made significant advances in these areas.
- We have ensured readiness for first oil in a record breaking 48 months.
- increased annual gold production from an average of 450,000 ounces in 2015 to an average of 660,000 ounces in 2019.
- Established the National Mining Syndicates body to ensure that small miners have a level field to compete on.
- Waived taxes on fuel, tools. and small-scale mining equipment.
- Enabled the entrance of a third bauxite operator in First Bauxite Inc. and seen the start of production in Bonasika, Region 3.
- Formulated a 10 year development plan for the mineral sector and conducted a feasibility of the bauxite sector including, the construction of an international scale alumina refinery.
- Embraced a greater appreciation for the environment and the enhanced the role of responsible, sustainable and safe mining practices.
- Completed an expert review of all the laws and regulations pertaining to the natural resources sector – from petroleum exploration and production -to- the purchasing and trade in gold.
- Commenced a nation-wide geological survey to assess and quantify our mineral wealth, and soon we will be retrieving and storing in hard and electronic formats, in a specially built core shed, all of the data from geological surveys l done in Guyana – both on and offshore.
- We have commenced the modernisation and restructuring process for the GGMC to make it modern and technologically adept and responsive to the coming explosion that we are about to experience.
I also assure you, that as Minister of Natural Resources, and on behalf of the Ministry, and the Government by extension, we are proud of your progress and we look forward with great excitement and expectation as we continue to support your evolution to becoming the preeminent force in the mining industry. I wish you a successful conference – one filled with meaningful discussions and purposeful outcomes.
Thank you and May God continue to bless you and keep you and the great industry that you are placed to oversee.
Press Release – MOU Signed between Government of Guyana and National Service of Geology and Mining Government of the Republic of Chile
Minister of Natural Resources Hon. Raphael Trotman today, signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Chile´s Minister of Mining Hon. Baldo Prokurica and the National Service of Geology and Mining of the Government of the Republic of Chile (SERNAGEOMIN).
The Memorandum provides a framework for the exchange of scientific and technical knowledge and the augmentation of scientific and technical capabilities of the GGMC and SERNAGEOMIN with respect to Earth Sciences and Mining.
“The signing of this MoU brings to fruition areas discussed when His Excellency, President David Granger visited Chile two years ago. We look to Chile as a good example for productive and safe mining practices and how the proceeds of mining can be utilized for the benefit of the citizens. This relationship between Guyana and Chile will benefit our people immensely and we can look to no better example than Chile of how to do it properly.” – Hon. Raphael Trotman
Minister of Mining, Chile, Hon. Baldo Prokurica said his country is pleased to be able to share its knowledge and expertise with Guyana. He noted that Chile is known throughout the world as an important mining country.
“We are very interested in signing this agreement and further collaboration especially in geological services … twenty percent (20%) of mining services provided in Peru are Chileans.”
Forms of cooperation under the Memorandum may consist of exchanges of technical information; visits; participation in training courses, conferences, and symposia; the exchange of professional geoscientists in areas of mutual interest; and any other cooperative research consistent with programmes of the Parties. Specific areas of cooperation include, but are not limited to Geochemical and Geological Mapping and Data Analysis, Economic Geology and Metallogenesis
Manager of the Geological Services Division, GGMC, Gordon Nestor noted that the MoU clears the way for greater capacity building in the GGMC.
“It will help boost capacity for geological and land management platforms and the development of professionals in geo sciences, geo physics and structural management and data management.”
Collaboration between SERNAGEOMIN and GGMC has started with two outward visits of GGMC staff to Chile and one inward from SERNAGEOMIN to the GGMC. There are three Chileans working at the GGMC. [END]
-UK Environment Agency impressed with presentation by delegation
The Guyana delegation in the United Kingdom (UK) has made Guyana’s case for the lifting of the greenheart import ban which was placed by UK Environment Agency (EA) in 2015.
The delegation which included Guyana Forestry Commission’s Chairman of the Board, Joslyn Dow, EU-FLEGT Secretariat Head, Kenny David, GFC Deputy Commissioner, Andrew Mendez, of McVantahe Inc. among others, made a combined presentation to Andy Powell of the UK EA and Clare Marsden of Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (DEFRA).
The presentation focused on the many accomplishments of Guyana when it comes to sustainable forest practices, and the key impacts the restrictions have had on the industry and the country as a whole. It also focused on the current code of practice and the maintenance of Guyana’s biodiversity.
From the presentation the delegation then sought clarification from the EA and DEFRA representatives on whether or not the FLEGT certification which will be given to Guyana in about five-six years, will be accepted for Category B timber since the UK only accepts Category A FSC 100% Greenheart from Iwokrama as of 2016.
They also challenged the UK EA’s stance on offering support to the country in getting FSC certification since only this is accepted but is costly. Further, they asked what can be done between now and the time FLEGT certification starts to restore trade between the two countries.
From the presentation the EA and DEFRA representatives clarified that they did not consider the restrictions a ban; though conceding that standards had acted as a barrier to imports. They also shared that more needs to be done in terms of awareness and thus far, they have met with some of their suppliers to clarify their position on this.
Overall the UK EA was very impressed by the presentation and noted that the information was very useful in clarifying the negative perception of timber from Guyana’s forests. Guyana will now have to await feedback from the UK EA on moving forward as they consult superiors and make recommendations.
The greenheart restrictions were introduced by the Environmental Agency (EA) in the UK in 2015. Then it was claimed that proof of sustainable sourcing of the forest product was inadequate, and this has since resulted in a drastic decrease in export of the product to the UK. In December 2016 the EA relaxed the restrictions on greenheart, but only began to accept Category A FSC 100% Greenheart from Iwokrama.
The Guyana delegation is confident that this direct engagement will lead to greater relaxation of the restrictions and lead to increased access to the United Kingdom market for producers and exporters of greenheart forest producers.
– Symposium marks beginning of Mining Week
DPI, Guyana, Monday, August 20, 2018
Mining Week 2018 got underway with a symposium which sought to explore how to achieve greater recovery through green mining.
The seminar was hosted by the Ministry of Natural Resources at the Arthur Chung Conference Centre (ACCC) today and featured a panel consisting of Guyana Geology and Mines Commission (GGMC), Conservation International Guyana, the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and the Guyana Gold and Diamond Miners Association (GGDMA).
Representatives from these organisations shared past, current and future projects which are geared towards greater recovery in the mining of gold and making the practice more responsible.
Panellist and Mineral Processing Engineer at GGMC, Quinton Johnson, noted that the regulatory body has been exploring various recovery techniques to present to the miners.
Johnson added that the GGMC will soon be testing the iGoli process as an alternative to the use of mercury in the mining of gold. This mercury-free process allows for the extraction of gold from a chlorine solution produced from a mixture of pool acid and bleach.
Conservation International and WWF shared their upcoming projects. CI’s Eldorado Gold Project will work with artisanal and small-scale miners in Regions Eight and Nine to explore mercury-free mining by 2025 along the supply chain from prospectors to producers.
The WWF project will see the demonstration of mercury-free extraction models and sharing of mercury data on a regional level.
Much of the discussion centred around miners understanding the importance of the exploration they are doing and identifying the grain size of the mineral and the best method suitable for extraction.
CI Guyana is working with the GGDMA to develop low impact methods of prospecting.
Former Commissioner of the GGMC and member of the GGDMA and panellist William Woolford noted that miners are interested in working with the regulatory agency and other partners towards more green mining but need technical and financial support.
Mining Week 2018 began on August 19, 2018.
Remarks by Hon. Raphael G. C. Trotman, MP., Minister of Natural Resources at Liza Phase 1 Development Reception
Tuesday, June 12, 2018 | Cara Lodge, Georgetown
Above the sometimes deafening din of disaffection and doom we are gathered to celebrate the attainment of another milestone in our odyssey towards our ordained appointment with destiny – one that is monumental not so much because it marks past events, but rather because of what it portends for the future. The arrival of the Noble Bob Douglas in March of this year, to carry out the drilling of the 17 production wells, was the veritable starter’s signal that the march towards the unveiling of our destiny had entered a new, unprecedented and exciting phase.
We have now come to a plateau before we make the final ascent to the summit – we have come also closer to that destiny that our founding fathers and mothers heralded at our independence.
The Liza Destiny, the replica of which is majestically displayed here, with the colours of our flag proudly emblazoned on its bow and stern represents more than just a ship or FPSO. It stands as a strong and proud symbol of the hope and destiny of every Guyanese both here and in the Diaspora.
The Oxford dictionary defines “destiny” as:
“what will happen or has happened to a person or thing thought of as determined in advance by fate or the hidden power believed to control this; fate” The operative and critical words here are “hidden power” and “fate”.
The Liza Destiny is currently in the Keppel Shipyard, interestingly, it is a shipyard in Singapore, and I’m advised, but not sure I can verify, or want to believe, that it is within a stone’s throw from Sentosa Island where the historic summit took place yesterday. Ironically, Singapore and Guyana have often both been compared and contrasted; both gained independence around the same time; both had similar per capita GDPs at the time of independence in the mid 1960’s; both had institutional systems that predicted glorious futures. One soared and one has struggled to take flight. We have a second chance, a jubilee opportunity I believe, to get it right.
Guyana has waited 50 plus years to remove the negative labels such as “third world” “backward” under-developed” and “developing”. With the blessings that have been revealed, and are within our grasp, we purpose to develop a modern, peaceful and cohesive state. One in which every man, woman and child, without exception, reservation, and/or discrimination of any kind, is able to enjoy the full and equal benefits of the bounty we are about to be bestowed.
The discovery of vast amounts of petroleum in May 2015, then Esso Guyana with the erstwhile Jeff Simmons, and done so by ExxonMobil on the eve of the election of H.E. David Granger as President, is perhaps serendipitous, but certainly divinely ordained. As with every major event in the shaping of a nation’s development and history, one that is truly epoch-making, there is always going to be a group that pulls while another pushes. This phenomenon we recognise as the inter-play between dialectic forces working and chaffing at each other as they are naturally expected to do. Quite paradoxically, this process invariably produces a wonderful result. We respect the right of persons to disagree with our programmes and so tonight we celebrate being mindful and respectful of the fact that there are those who have a contrary view about this development.
Those of us here tonight are the purveyors of hope and happiness and it is worth restating that ExxonMobil, a company that has been in Guyana since 1999, has the same or very similar contractual terms as does Anadarko, CGX, Repsol, Ratio, Eco Atlantic and Mid-Atlantic, to name a few. In that regard they will enjoy the same rights and obligations as every other company that has been contracted to explore and develop our hydrocarbons. That they were the first to find a large deposit should not redefine their contractual terms or place them in any position lesser than that enjoyed prior to the discovery. For Government to do otherwise is just not how responsible and well organised and governed states function.
I conclude by saying that it gives me great pleasure to officially recognise this symbolic gathering as the official start of the countdown towards ‘first oil’. Every day hereafter will represent and mark an indelible step towards our appointment with destiny.
We thank God and pray His blessings upon this project, for the workmen and women engaged and soon to be engaged, for the venture-partners ExxonMobil, Hess and CNOOCNexen, the President, people and dear land of Guyana.
I now move a toast to the successful development ahead and to a successful partnership that together enables first oil.
“Improving FLEGT Readiness of 69 Community Forestry Organizations (CFO) through increased awareness of related regulations.” May 28, 2018
Remarks Presented by Hon. Raphael G.C. Trotman, MP, Minister of Natural Resources at the Launching Ceremony of the Guyana Forestry Commission/FAO-EU FLEGT Programme Project:
“Improving FLEGT Readiness of 69 Community Forestry Organizations (CFO) through increased awareness of related regulations.”
May 28, 2018
The EU FAO FLEGT Programme is a part of a global effort that is supported by the EU to implement the FLEGT Action Plan, adopted in 2003 by EU Member States in response to the global environmental, economic and social consequences of the illegal timber trade.
The Action Plan outlines a series of supply- and demand-side measures to improve forest governance and legality in the forest sector and ultimately enable Sustainable Forest Management (SFM).
Grants of up to €100 000 are channelled through the EU FAO FLEGT Programme to government institutions, private sector organizations and “grassroots” civil society in timber-producing developing countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America to support locally driven processes that put the FLEGT Action Plan into practice. By only supporting actions that are requested directly by stakeholders, the programme enables local ownership of the FLEGT process.
In these few simple sentences, we find an objective that is succinctly laid out – one in which through individual, community, national and global efforts, the sustainable development goals are achieved one, by one, from country to country; thus ensuring that the future of planet and its peoples is safeguarded and thus guaranteed.
The importance of the sustainable utilization of our forest resources cannot be underscored enough. We see forests the world over, having increasing significance, especially natural tropical forests. Guyana’s forests therefore have enormous national, regional and international significance in terms of economic benefits and employment generated, foreign exchange earnings at the national level, and perhaps most importantly, contribution to the mitigation of adverse climate change effects at the global level.
We remain grounded though, in the recognition that this vast resource must be used for the equitable sustainable development of our people, the stewards and users of the forest – importantly at community level. This therefore requires forest resources especially at the level of communities, to be utilized in keeping with environmentally sound practices, for the provision of food, employment and income generation that would be necessary to support community livelihoods.
In Guyana, 133 forest concessions totaling over 1.2 million acres or 500,000 hectares of forest lands have been allocated to 69 community forestry groups; these small and medium scale community operators contribute over 60% of the total production in the forest sector. I am informed that this afternoon the GFC Board will approve some more concessions, which will benefit some communities directly.
Additionally, these community stakeholders employ over 2,000 persons and are exporting forest produce to many markets. Many of our value-added manufacturers and exporters rely largely on community level production to sustain their operations. As an enabling and responsible Government, we believe that benefits need to flow directly and quickly to forest users and communities, and access must not be restricted to just large operators.
Two 2018 initiatives supporting this policy position are the establishment of a consolidated stock yard, which will over time give rise to a guaranteed market once certain criteria are met, and a National Forest Inventory which will help forest concessionaires in better planning of their harvesting, extraction and marketing activities. This budgetary support is in the sum of $50M and $125M respectively, for a total of $175M. This support for the forestry sector came after rounds of engagements with the GMSA that were initiated by the Ministry of Finance
We must continue to intensify our efforts for poverty reduction and improve livelihoods by ensuring that forest resources are put to the best possible use whilst not compromising environmental sustainability. We are therefore very pleased that this effort to build capacity at the community level on FLEGT-related compliance is being supported by our international partners at the EU and FAO.
Our work with the EU on FLEGT provides the necessary high quality accreditation the market is looking for and gives the assurance that sustainable forest management protocols and legality standards are being followed. The EU has been a long standing and reliable partner for Guyana.
Similarly, the FAO has been a solid forestry counterpart for decades. Our partnership with the FAO dates back to the very early work on the first national scale forest inventory, and participatory forestry. Currently, FAO is also contributing to other FLEGT initiatives.
Guyana expresses its gratitude to you both for your tangible support and we look forward to other international partners also becoming very engaged in similar initiatives.
This project will see a joint effort of the GFC, working with local partners, the GRA, NIS and the Department of Labour to expand training and awareness on mandatory requirements for forest operators that go beyond those typically included in forest training exercises such as log tracking and reduced impact logging, to areas of compliance with tax laws, insurance requirements, and labour laws.
It is expected that this partnership will see a stronger, more integrated and synergistic implementation of agreed legality standards. The beneficiaries of this outcome will be community operators and residents in forest based areas.
The GFC has a national mandate to promote Sustainable Forestry Management (SFM) in Guyana in keeping with national laws and international standards and agreements and has been successful in this regard, evident by Guyana’s rate of deforestation still being one of the lowest globally. In the year 2016, this rate was verified by international auditors at a mere 0.05 %.
As such, Guyana has long been recognized internationally as a country that practices SFM at the concession management unit level. We are also considered to be a global leader in the fight against climate change and our Monitoring, Reporting and Verification System (MRVS) is second to none, another achievement that was born through partnership – this time with the Kingdom of Norway.
Despite these advances, we remain committed to reviewing and revising our legislative and policy framework when necessary, to ensure that the sector operates in the best governance framework. Accordingly, in April 2018, after a thorough stakeholder engagement process Cabinet approved the revised visionary National Forest Plan and Policy Statement laying the platform for the next phase of forest development activities.
To further advance this already robust Ssustainable Forest Management environment in Guyana, new forestry regulations and the Code of Practice for Forest Operations were tabled on May 11, 2018 in the National Assembly. The achievements in the governance of the Forestry sector have been qualitative.
EU FLEGT is another critical aspect of this governance framework. It is anticipated that by August 2018 we will be able to initial the FLEGT VPA agreement after some six (6) years of national and international stakeholder engagement.
This will start the formal implementation of the preparedness stage following which FLEGT licenses will be issued. The project that we are launching today, valued at USD $54,500, is an instrumental part of this preparedness process and we are effectively making an early start in meeting these commitments. Today we are signaling to the EU, FAO and other partners that we are committed and eager to see the first license being issued under FLEGT.
The direct beneficiaries of this project are encouraged to make the best possible use of this opportunity to gain new knowledge over the next 18 months, thereby improving the quality of community operations to the benefit of all.
I wish the project’s implementing partners and participants every success and once again celebrate the valuable partnerships that continue to be strengthened in the forestry sector.
Thank you and God Bless.