COP 15: the EU and Guyana sign an agreement on sustainable trade of legal timber

Today at COP 15 in Montreal, Canada, European Commissioner for Environment, Oceans and Fisheries Mr. Virginijus Sinkevičius, and Guyana Minister of Natural Resources, Hon. Vickram Bharrat M.P., signed a legally binding trade agreement to promote sustainable trade of legal timber to the European Union (EU). Mr. Jan Dusík, Deputy Minister of the Environment of the Czech Republic, EU presidency of the Council, co-signed the agreement. The agreement will give EU-based timber buyers assurance that timber products from Guyana are legal. It will help improve forest governance, further curb illegal logging and promote trade in verified legal timber products. This cooperation takes place in the context of the EU Global Gateway strategy which stands for sustainable and trusted connections. Global Gateway is tackling the most pressing global challenges, including fighting climate change and supporting the security of global supply chains.

Through the Voluntary Partnership Agreement, Guyana will have to improve market access to EU businesses, as well as modernise its forestry sector, create jobs, promote sustainable development, and protect the rights of indigenous peoples.

Under the VPA, Guyana commits to developing a timber legality assurance system to assess that timber products -for all stages of the supply chain- have been produced in accordance with national legislation. When this system is operational, Guyana can issue verified legal timber products with FLEGT licences.

Guyana is the first country in the Amazon region to sign a Voluntary Partnership Agreement (VPA) on forest law enforcement, governance, and trade (FLEGT) with the European Union.

With the signing of this agreement, Guyana and the EU each needed to ratify the VPA, according to their respective procedures. Forest stakeholders as the private sector, indigenous peoples, local communities, and civil society, have all been closely involved in the negotiation of the agreement, alongside the Government and EU representatives. They will continue to play a key role throughout the implementation phase.

This bilateral agreement will advance the integrated planning and management of Guyana’s forest sector under the Low Carbon Development Strategy (LCDS) 2030.

The signature marks the end of a 10-year negotiation process. It consolidates Guyana’s position as a frontrunner in the protection, restoration, and sustainable management of forests. Under the EU Global Gateway Strategy, Guyana is also one of the first five countries worldwide that signed a Memorandum of Understanding on a Forest Partnership with the EU at COP 27 a month ago.

Guyana has already robust national legislation on forests, including a Forest Code, and the VPA will ensure this is duly enforced, guaranteeing the sustainable management of the country’s enormous forest area and thus protecting biodiversity. It will also help to improve the competitiveness of Guyana’s timber industry by modernising timber operations. This, in turn, will create jobs and ensure that forestry brings employment to the formal economy while expanding trade opportunities as Guyana moves to export guaranteed legal timber products.

Guyana is the second country in Latin America to sign a VPA with the EU under the FLEGT Action Plan, following Honduras.

“We are thrilled to have reached this agreement with Guyana,” said Commissioner for International Partnerships Jutta Urpilainen. “After the forest Partnership signed at COP 27, this VPA provides an opportunity for the EU and Guyana to keep on building on our long-standing partnership to further cooperate in the area of environment and forests. Forests are our allies in fighting climate change and protecting biodiversity, and local communities benefit from sustainable forest management. I am confident that this agreement will also lead to a positive impact on the Guyanese population, including indigenous peoples.”

Commissioner for Environment, Oceans, and Fisheries Virginijus Sinkevičius added: “This VPA is yet another positive development in fighting illegal logging, as the world meets in Montreal to agree on ambitious new targets to halt and reverse biodiversity loss. Earlier this month, the EU agreed on the world’s-first law to fight global deforestation and forest degradation driven by EU production and consumption. The new law will integrate and improve the existing system to control timber legality, going beyond legality and addressing several other crucial commodities beyond wood. We will work with Guyana and all other partner countries to help them reap the economic opportunities of this new law for deforestation-free producers across the globe.”

“Guyana has one of the oldest, most diverse, and largest tropical ecosystems worldwide that houses an array of diverse flora and fauna. Our forests are home to more than 9 000 species and it is crucial that we preserve such wildlife”, said the Minister of Natural Resources Vickram Bharrat. “Forests in Guyana are also a net carbon sink and have a major role to play in the world to mitigate climate change. They cover nearly 80% of our land and through sustainable forest management, we can ensure they can continue to be home to our rich biodiversity, help us strengthen the economy, and improve people’s livelihoods. This deal with the EU will boost the trade in legal timber, which will stimulate the creation of green jobs while protecting the precious environment we have. This bilateral agreement will advance the integrated planning and management of Guyana’s forest sector under the Low Carbon Development Strategy (LCDS) 2030.”

“This Agreement constitutes a significant contribution to the conservation of Guyana’s forests, which is essential for both protecting the biodiversity and fight against climate change. Guyana and the European Union already work together very closely, and the Voluntary Partnership Agreement will strengthen our cooperation and also stimulate good governance and sustainable forest management”, says Jan Dusík, Deputy Minister of the Environment of the Czech Republic and Special Envoy of the Czech Government, on behalf of Czech Presidency of the Council of the EU.

Download the VPA Between Guyana and the EU on FLEGT in Timber Products to the EU.

Related links
Guyana Forestry Commission
Guyana FLEGT VPA website
FLEGT VPA Facility: Guyana country page
COP27: EU launches Forest Partnerships (
Statement by the President: Signature of Forest Partnerships (
Global Gateway

Source: Guyana Forestry Commission

Guyana and EU join forces to meet highest international standards on export of legal timber

On 27 October 2022, representatives of Guyana and the European Union met to discuss the implementation of their Voluntary Partnership Agreement (VPA) on Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade (FLEGT). The Agreement will help improve forest governance and sustainable forestry, and verify the trade in legal timber.

According to René Van Nes, Ambassador of the European Union to Guyana, “the VPA spearheads Guyana as a global pioneer of sustainable forest management.”

During the meeting, the Parties indicated they will endeavour to sign the Agreement before the end of 2022. The VPA will raise industry standards and living conditions of the sector. After Guyana and the EU sign and ratify the VPA, its commitments will become legally binding. The Parties intend to give high international visibility to such an important milestone, noting the groundbreaking and innovative nature of the Agreement.

The signature and subsequent ratification will mark the end of a 10-year negotiation process. Guyana will thereupon join a selected group of Asian, African and American countries committed to the protection of their forests. Guyana will become the first VPA country in the Amazon region, and the second in the Americas, after Honduras; making it a frontrunner in sustainable forest management, adhering to the highest international standards.

Through the VPA’s implementation, Guyana will further strengthen the sustainable use of its forest resources, reduce illegal timber trade and better modernise timber operations, thereby ensuring that forestry brings green jobs in the formal economy. The VPA also includes commitments to improve transparency, accountability, legislative clarity and other aspects of governance.

The Honorable Minister of Natural Resources, Mr. Vickram Bharat, stated that “the Pre-JMRC meetings continue to highlight Guyana’s continued commitment to the VPA process and the broader initiatives to improve forest governance. He further stated that the VPA and the agreements reached are all part of the Government’s commitment under the Low Carbon Development Strategy 2030 aimed at promoting a green economy”.

Good governance of Guyana’s forests is crucial to sustainable development. Moreover, it helps both Guyana and the EU contribute to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals, including by mitigating climate change and protecting biodiversity.

The Parties agreed to focus their efforts on the further development and implementation of strengthened operational procedures for the sector, and a robust paper-based and digital traceability system of logs and timber that meets the VPA’s requirements. To ensure these priorities will be met in time, Guyana and the EU agreed on a detailed work plan.

The Parties also discussed how they will continue to engage with national and international stakeholders interested in VPA implementation. They committed to putting in place a range of tools to ensure that interested audiences can follow the developments and impacts of VPA implementation.

Representatives of the private sector and civil society, including indigenous peoples’ organisations, presented the issues they would like to bring to the table. Guyana and the EU also discussed next steps in the development of an approach to protect the traditional rights of Amerindian peoples.

The next meeting of the Joint Monitoring and Review Committee, which reviews progress of the implementation of the Guyana-EU FLEGT VPA, is scheduled to take place in May 2023.

Guyana Forestry Commission and Partners Begin Countrywide Compliance Outreach

Forest sector operators across Guyana will benefit from multiple awareness and capacity-building activities between June and September 2022. The Guyana Forestry Commission will lead this initiative by hosting sixteen awareness-raising sessions on the forestry sector’s legal compliance requirements and providing bookkeeping and record-keeping skills training with the support of its partners.

Under the theme ‘Improving Compliance within the Guyana Timber Legality Framework’, these sessions focus on enhancing voluntary compliance by providing key forest operators with guidance on the main compliance requirements. These include the National Insurance Scheme, the Guyana Revenue Authority, the Ministry of Labour, and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) requirements.

The first session of the 2022 stakeholder outreach in Parika.

Guyana is implementing the Guyana Timber Legality Assurance System (GTLAS), which expands on the country’s current Wood Tracking System and is based on the country’s existing legal framework. The GTLAS is central to Guyana’s efforts to guarantee the legality of its timber products and ensure they meet national and international obligations and requirements. Market access to the European Union and other global markets will improve when the country’s forest operators meet these conditions.

Partners for the outreach include the Ministry of Natural Resources (MONR), the Delegation of the European Union to Guyana, the European Forest Institute Technical Assistance Project (EFITAP), the Government of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland acting through the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO), the Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade (FLEGT) Facilitator and Forest Governance Facilitator.

To learn more about this event and how to participate, visit, or the Guyana-EU FLEGT VPA Facebook and Instagram pages. You can also contact the FLEGT Secretariat at 592-226-7247 or 223-5135 or email

Media Contact:

Tanika Jones
Communications and Outreach Expert
European Forest Institute Technical Assistance Project (EFITAP)
Guyana Forestry Commission Annex
17 Access Road, Kingston, Georgetown, Guyana
Telephone: +592-503-1830

Guyana-EU Agree on Roadmap to Improve Forest Governance, Reduce Illegal Timber Trade

Guyana and the European Union (EU) on Thursday, agreed on a detailed roadmap for implementing the Guyana-EU Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade (FLEGT) Voluntary Partnership Agreement (VPA), which aims to improve forest governance and verify the trade in legal timber.

The aide-mémoire was signed by Minister of Natural Resources, Vickram Bharrat and EU Ambassador to Guyana, His Excellency, Fernando Ponz Cantó, at the Pegasus hotel after a meeting with the various stakeholders.

Minister of Natural Resources, Vickram Bharrat, M.P and Ambassador of the European Union to Guyana, Fernando Ponz Cantó sign the agreement.

“In no way the FLEGT VPA or the Low Carbon Development Strategy, that is in the consultative process right now is speaking towards reduction in forest activities, reduction in harvesting or the production of wood products, what it speaks to directly is the sustainability of it, how inclusive the process is and also, and importantly how legal, the operation and the products are,” Minister Bharrat said.

He made it clear that the agreement in no way means that the country is “cutting down” on forest activities, but ensuring that it is done in a sustainable, legal manner.

He noted that Guyana has one of the best forest management systems in the world.

“We are way above in terms of the management, in terms of sustainability and eradicating illegal logging,” Minister Bharrat noted.

The Minister said the government has been successful in tackling illegal logging, making more resources available to the Guyana Forestry Commission (GFC).

The administration has also taken steps to curb illegal mining, allocating more than 100 small concessions to small loggers and their associations in Regions One and Ten, and monitoring activities. 

Meanwhile, the EU Ambassador noted that the concerns raised about the forestry regulation are currently being discussed in Europe.

“In any case we are aware that Guyana is in a situation where it has preserved its forest, I have to congratulate you for that,” he said.    

He noted that it is timely to have the FLEGT VPA continue to preserve the forest.

“The FLEGT VPA is going to be a formidable tool for ultimately helping Guyana and helping all of you to preserve the forest, but also to use it for the benefit of your communities, for the benefit of Guyanese in a way that it is inclusive, that it is sustainable and in a way that the forest continues to be this treasure that you have, but also provides for the current and for the future generations,” EU Ambassador said.

During the meeting, the parties discussed the establishment of the Guyana-EU VPA Joint Monitoring and Review Committee (JMRC), which will oversee the implementation of the agreement and includes representatives of all stakeholder groups.

Guyana is committed to making funds available to support the implementation of the VPA. Additional financial support is provided by the EU, Norway, and the UK.

The next meeting of the parties is expected before the end of 2022.

The VPA negotiations began in December 2012. They involved the private sector, government ministries and agencies, and indigenous peoples.

Source: Guyana Forestry Commission

Virtual Learning Event on the FLEGT VPA Sees Significant Participation

Approximately 100 engaged forest sector stakeholders, representatives from civil society and non-governmental organisations (NGOs), and other persons from across Guyana and the world came together between November 10 to 13 2020 on virtual platforms, Zoom and Facebook, for the ‘Markets, Technologies and Communities: Lessons and Experiences for the Forest and Wood Product Sector in Guyana’ event hosted by the Guyana Forestry Commission (GFC).

The central focus of the event was to support forest sector stakeholders in Guyana on key issues related to the implementation of the Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade Voluntary Partnership Agreement (FLEGT VPA) by bringing together national and international stakeholders to learn from each other’s experiences, share lessons, and build networks for collaboration.

Guyana’s event was made possible through partnerships with the World Resources Institute (WRI), the European Forest Institute Technical Assistance Project (EFITAP), the Government of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland acting through the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO), and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations-European Union (FAO-EU) FLEGT Programme.

The event was inaugurated by James Singh, past Commissioner, and current Management Consultant of the GFC. In his opening remarks, Mr Singh noted that Guyana seeks to be as effective and efficient as possible as it moves forward with the VPA implementation and will therefore benefit from the collective knowledge of participants.

The seminar convened with a high-level panel that included Dr Alhassan Attah, former FLEGT Facilitator in Guyana and moderator, as well as the Honourable Fernando Ponz Cantó, Ambassador of the European Union Delegation to Guyana, the Honourable Greg Quinn, British High Commissioner to Guyana and the Honourable Vickram Bharrat, M.P., Minister of Natural Resources. Members of the high-level panel highlighted the opportunities presented to Guyana through the VPA process.

In addressing participants, Ambassador Ponz Cantó said that the FLEGT licensing scheme is an extremely useful agreement between the EU and Guyana and, citing his involvement with Liberia and Honduras, noted the importance of the exchange of past practices for the country’s benefit. The EU Ambassador also highlighted that Guyana has the opportunity to be a pioneer in this form of agreement and, as such, the EU is committed to working with the country to advance the VPA process.

High Commissioner Greg Quinn reaffirmed the United Kingdom’s support to the FLEGT which he stated has helped Guyana, who are good custodians of its forests, respond to the illegal logging and related trade, deforestation, improve forest governance, continue its respect of indigenous rights and promote legal and sustainable timber trade. Further, the High Commissioner highlighted the support of the EU that has helped maintain transparency as well as clarify legal and administrative requirements applicable to the forestry sector.

The Honourable Minister Bharrat said that the VPA improves coordination and builds government and stakeholder capacity. The Minister said that the VPA offers significant benefits to Guyana beyond dealing with illegal logging and trade issues, helping Guyana maintain its reputation as a responsible forest nation while addressing development and environmental issues. Also, the VPA’s success, according to the Minister, is dependent on the exchange of knowledge and experiences between Guyana and other VPA nations as well as producers and buyers of timber to create synergies that provide the best opportunities.

Following the opening session, panel discussions focused on market trends, community forest management, and the use of information management systems to support the VPA implementation. These panels included participants and facilitators from the GFC and as well as representatives and attendees from businesses, organisations, and communities in Australia, Brazil, Cameroon, Canada, China, Colombia, Congo, Ecuador, Germany, Ghana, Guyana, Guatemala, Honduras, Jamaica, Liberia, Panama, Peru, Philippines, Spain, Trinidad and Tobago, United Kingdom, and the United States.

The first VPA Lessons Shared event in Guyana took place in November 2014. The two-day event was inspired by a series of global experience-sharing seminars and conferences hosted by The Royal Institute for International Affairs, also known as Chatham House, headquartered in London. Tropenbos International organised the event in cooperation with the GFC, FAO-EU FLEGT Programme, the European Forest Institute (EFI), the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), the Forestry Training Centre of Guyana, Iwokrama Foundation and theIDLgroup.

In 2016 Guyana hosted its second VPA lessons learned and experiences shared event titled ‘Sharing Regional Lessons on FLEGT VPA processes: Transitioning from Negotiations to Implementation’ with representatives from ten VPA countries, the public and private sector, NGOs and community representatives.

These series of events provide a forum for alliance-building and partnerships, knowledge-sharing and research in timber-producing countries.

In 2012, a policy decision was taken to enter into formal negotiations with the EU on the FLEGT VPA. Guyana and the EU concluded negotiations towards the VPA in November 2018. Ratification of the agreement would commit both parties to trade only legal timber and timber products.

To learn more about the 2020 event, replay event live streams and access other information, please visit

Karasabai Consulted on the Guyana-EU FLEGT VPA

On February 9th 2017, the Amerindian Village of Karasabai was consulted on the Guyana-EU FLEGT VPA as part of the National Technical Working Groups’ (NTWG) 2017 round of stakeholder consultation. Thirty one (31) persons were able to partake in the day’s session which included representation from the village of Yamparo. The participants ranged from teachers, Toshao, senior councillors, and to a greater extent; students of the Karasabai secondary school. Given the number of students present, the FLEGT team adjusted its approach of dialogue, and thus conducted a more focused session, fostering discussions relating to the overview of FLEGT and the opportunities it has to offer for the country (at a national level), and the Amerindian people who are (or will become) engaged in the timber industry.

While Karasabai does not do logging on a commercial scale, each requirement for Amerindian villages as outlined in the Legality Definition were discussed. In this way, the team was able to encourage discussions relating to the support they will need in order to meet these requirements should they venture into commercial logging. Based on this discussion, participants were able to identify some key support areas. Areas identified included the need for capacity building in Reduced Impact Logging (RIL), Sustainable Forest Management (SFM), General Forestry Operations and First Aid.

Furthermore, requests were made for awareness sessions on employer-employee rights under the relevant Laws governing Labor and Labor welfare in Guyana, especially those relating to overtime, minimum wage, NIS, Income tax etc. Moreover, Karasabai strongly believes that workshops with the Ministry of Labor, EPA, NIS and GRA are critical in order to improve the compliance of Amerindian Villages with environmental safety rules, tax returns and NIS payments. With regards to the latter, Mr. Leslie Allen (NIS Officer for Region 9) was able to provide a general overview of NIS, its benefits, and the process of registering for NIS. Finally, participants would like to see the inclusion of scholarships so that youths from the various villages can benefit from tertiary education (in forestry) at the Guyana School of Agriculture (GSA), for better job security and better manage their own forest resources.

Regional Seminar Held to Share Lessons on FLEGT VPA

A regional seminar on “Sharing Regional Lessons on FLEGT VPA processes: Transitioning from Negotiations to Implementation” was held from 28-29 September 2016 at the Pegasus Hotel in Georgetown, Guyana. This seminar was convened to share experiences and lessons learned around the processes of Voluntary Partnership Agreements (VPA) with the European Union (EU) under the auspices of the Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade (FLEGT) Action Plan. The FLEGT Action Plan was developed in response to the problem of illegal logging and trade in associated timber products. Approximately ninety (90) persons participated in the event, including Guyanese resource persons from Civil Society, the different scales of forest sector operators, the NGO Community including Indigenous organizations, Academia and Government Agencies; and international participants from Suriname, Honduras, Guatemala, Liberia, Ghana and the EU.

This regional FLEGT seminar allowed for the interactive exchange of experiences and lessons learnt from countries now in the implementation phase of their VPAs. The meeting was provided with an update on the implementation of the VPA in Indonesia, which highlighted its success in being the first country in the world to issue FLEGT licensed timber that will enter the European market this November.

Presentations under the theme “Timber Legality Assurance Systems (TLAS)”, highlighted linkages of existing forest certification schemes to the TLAS, such as Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), and demonstrated how this can benefit the FLEGT VPA process. Reflections from Ghana highlighted challenges and opportunities in implementing its own TLAS, throughout the long process of acquiring FLEGT licenses.

While presentations delivered under the theme “Lessons Learned from Civil Society in the Implementation of VPAs” emphasized effective stakeholder education, awareness and capacity building as key focal areas. Whilst it was appreciated that Guyana has done significant work in these areas, there were useful suggestions from working groups on how the effectiveness of these processes may be further improved. In deliberating on the role of Guyana’s indigenous people during the VPA implementation, representatives noted the extensive engagements done but reemphasized the need for the active engagement of indigenous groups in every stage of the deliberations while applying the principle of Free Prior Informed Consent (FPIC). A special call was made by some participants to further integrate the rights of indigenous peoples into the negotiations of the FLEGT VPA between Guyana and the EU. The seminar participants recognized that there was a need for more discussion on this topic, and possibly channel non-VPA related issues to other relevant fora.

Major cross-cutting themes throughout the seminar were: the need to involve civil society and especially indigenous peoples, in the decision-making process relating to FLEGT licensing; the need for continued financial support in moving from the negotiation stage to the implementation phase and; the need for Guyana to highlight its forest sustainability capacity and be proactive in securing timber export markets in preparation for its eventual FLEGT licensing. There was a general consensus that gaps in capacity necessary for implementation exist and some stakeholders identified the VPA annex on support measures as one mechanism through which these needs could potentially be addressed.

At the conclusion of the seminar, the Chairperson of the GFC thanked everyone for their vibrant contributions. She expressed the hope that all would continue to give their full commitment to the conclusion of the VPA and indicated that whilst this process may not be the forum to resolve all issues, one output of this seminar must be a formalized public process where these issues are acknowledged and forwarded to the relevant body for further deliberation.

There was a broad consensus that this seminar provided a good platform to share experiences, as well as a transparent setting where participants could speak freely. It was recommended that there should be other such engagements on a regular basis.

Background for press

Guyana’s VPA process traced its commencement in 2012 with the formation of a National Technical Working Group followed by consultation with a wide range of stakeholders and the subsequent development of a road map. Four negotiations with the EU have since been held – in Guyana in 2012, 2015, and 2016 and in Brussels in 2013.

This seminar is the second such event to be held in Guyana, the first was in 2014. The event was organized by the National Technical Working Group and the FLEGT Facilitation Support Office in collaboration with other partners (APA, EFI, FAO, Iwokrama and IUCN).

Inspired by the illegal logging update and stakeholder consultation meetings hosted by The Royal Institute for International Affairs Chatham House in London, Palladium (which acquired the IDL group in 2013) launched a series of global experience sharing seminars and conference events in 2011. This series of events was designed to create an in-country space for discussion and the exchange of ideas, experiences and research around forest governance in the timber-producing countries of the Congo Basin and West Africa. The two-day regional conferences which were held in Cameroon, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ghana and Liberia, attracted participants from around the world.