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 www.euflegt.gov.gy, www.forestry.gov.gy 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 euflegtguyana@gmail.com.


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
Email: efitapguyana@gmail.com

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 www.guyanaflegtevent2020.com.

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.