Head of int’l forest research centre lauds Iwokrama programme

Director General of the Centre for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) Frances J. Seymour lauded the “important work” her agency is doing in collaboration with Iwokrama during a recent visit to Guyana.

Seymour paid a courtesy call on President Bharrat Jagdeo on Thursday at the Office of the President. A Government Information Agency (GINA) press statement said CIFOR, which has its international headquarters in Indonesia and engages in forest related activities around the world, has an ongoing cooperation programme with Iwokrama. “(Iwokrama) is doing very important work to demonstrate not only the potential of sustainable management of forest for timber but also collaborative governance with local communities in managing forest resources, so we are very happy to be collaborating with Iwokrama,” Seymour said.

GINA said CIFOR operates on a mandate to inform policies and practices that influence the fate of forests and the communities that depend on those forests. In this regard, it plans to expand collaboration in forestry research with Iwokrama. The Iwokrama Forest is considered one of the four last pristine tropical forests in the world. It comprises rich biodiversity and ecosystems and measures about 3,710 square kilometers. Guyana is positioned to offer global education services in this area. It will be capitalising on these resources with the establishment of a world class centre for biodiversity research at the University of Guyana. A $9M loan has already been approved for the project. Additional financing is expected to be sourced from the Low Carbon Development Strategy – $2M – and another $9M from philanthropic sources.

In an address at Nations University on September 5, Jagdeo said Guyana can become a global centre for studies in biodiversity and attract investment from some of the largest companies in the world. He noted that pharmaceutical companies may be particularly interested in conducting research here.

Seymour is also interested in the accomplishments made through the Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD) agenda. She noted that CIFOR was familiar with the REDD concept and the bilateral forest carbon agreements which Norway shares with Guyana and Indonesia. “I’ve heard your President speak at various international events so I was eager to come and hear how it’s going, what the challenges were and what the achievements have been and I’m quite impressed with what Guyana has been able to do in moving forward on the REDD agenda,” Seymour said.

According to GINA, on July 1, Guyana assumed the role of co-chair to the Interim REDD Partnership with Germany and, according to the president Guyana will advocate for the speedy disbursement of forest resources that were pledged to countries. At the conclusion of the 16th Conference of Parties of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in Copenhagen, an accord was signed with a pledge of US$10B to start funding per annum.

The CIFOR head said the Guyana experience has valuable lessons that can feed into international negotiations such as those on climate change. She is hopeful that scientists and researchers who work with CIFOR will be able to deepen collaboration in Guyana to share the experience globally, the release said.
Seymour is also eager to embark on an excursion to Iwokrama, which she has for decades, longed to visit, GINA said.

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