Forestry commission, FPA differ on consultation

The Guyana Forestry Com-mission (GFC) is refuting the Forest Products Association’s (FPA) charge that there was little or no stakeholder consultation on the new lumber yard and sawmilling regulations and standards set to come into force in January.

But Public Relations Consultant to the FPA Kit Nascimento said that there was no real consultation process to bring to the industry the new regulations and standards. He said that the GFC used a very selective process in sharing information on the new stipulations and the FPA didn’t consider this proper consultation.

The GFC in a press release yesterday noted with concern the statements contained in an article captioned “FPA unhappy at no consultation on climate change forest offer” which appeared in the Stabroek News of Wednesday. The offending statement in the article read: “He (Nascimento) also referred to the slew of new regulations and standards to come into place from January 1, 2008 on all lumber dealers, traders and lumber yards and said too that there was no consultation with the stakeholders when these were being crafted.”

The GFC said that the statement in the article gave the impression that the GFC would be imposing a number of new regulations and standards for lumber dealers, traders and lumber yards without having consultations with stakeholders when these regulations were being formulated.

The GFC is to meet with a technical committee of the FPA on Monday to consider the submissions of stakeholders to the standards and regulations.

“This is a complete misrepresentation of the facts. These regulations and standards are included in the ‘Guyana Timber Grading Rules for Hardwoods’, a document that was formulated on the basis of extensive consultation with the sector over a number of years,” the GRC said in a release yesterday.

It said too that in 2005, the GFC held countrywide consultations to remind stakeholders that they were expected to comply with these regulations in 2006.

The FPA is also concerned that the lumber industry could be totally shut down come January 1 when new regulations are implemented since many of its members are simply not ready for the major changes. Some of the new standards concern stacking and racking, end protection, grading, cutting sizes for dressed lumber, moisture content, and recovery rates. The standards also call for lumber yards to have hard floors and for significant changes to be made to buildings housing sawmills. The FPA has proposed its own draft policies and procedures for the sawmilling sector with a view to moving the issue forward.

The release from the GFC said: “The GFC recognises the efforts of some stakeholders to implement the regulations and standards. Unfortunately, the majority of stakeholders have chosen not to make the required adjustments to their business procedures. However, the GFC has a responsibility to ensure that consumers are given value for money especially in the form of quality products.”

The GFC said too that it has a responsibility to promote efficiency and reduce wastage in the processing arena.

“With this in mind, the GFC held four consultations during the month of October 2007 at Mon Repos, Skeldon, Anna Regina and Linden to further remind stakeholders of these regulations and standards, and also advised that they would be enforced in 2008,” the GFC said.

The FPA is maintaining the persons spoken with during this process were selected and that the consultation wasn’t broad-based.

The GFC said that at the consultations, the GFC welcomed written submissions from stakeholders on the regulations and standards and indicated that three such submissions have been received so far.

“These facts clearly contradict the allegations of impositions and no consultations,” the GFC said in its release.

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