ITTO reports reproduce data transmitted by the Guyana Forestry Commission

Dear Editor,

Every so often you reproduce items from the Guyana page of the fortnightly Timber Trade Market reports from the International Tropical Timber Organiza-tion (ITTO); for example, your report ‘Sawnwood demand predicted to soar’ (SN, March 13, 2011).  You do this as if the ITTO/TTM reports are independent surveys.  They are simply reproductions of what the Guyana Forestry Commis-sion (GFC) reports as official data to the ITTO, which has itself no independent capacity or mandate to check on what ITTC member governments report.  Implying that the reports emanate from Yokohama, the HQ of ITTO, gives an air of authenticity to data which are not subject to independent verification. The GFC anticipates independent forest monitoring in the context of a legality assurance system compatible with the EU Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade (FLEGT) initiative; see pages 28, 39 and 41 of the REDD Preparation Proposal, version of April 2010, http://www.forestry.gov.gy/Downloads/ Readiness_Preparation_Proposal_April_2010_Revised.pdf.

The President’s Low Carbon Develop-ment Strategy also anticipates independent monitoring; see footnote 37 on page 30, and pages 79 and 84 which contain extracts from the Norway-Guyana MoU, version of May 2010, http://www.lcds. gov.gy/images/stories/Documents/Low%20Carbon%20Development%20Strategy%20-%20May% 202010.pdf.
However, the undated Guyana National Bureau of Standards document GYS 496:2010 –‘Requirements for the Guyana Legality Assurance System’ issued in February 2011 makes no mention of independent forest monitoring, nor did its draft issued in March 2010.  This confusion of messages from the government may have contributed to the delays in issuing verification reports on developments in Guyana.  The Rainforest Alliance report on the Norway-Guyana ‘enablers’ was due to be published on November 24, 2010, the Det Norske Veritas verification of the GFC-Poyry New Zealand report on deforestation levels is pending, and the Efeca check on the Guyana legality assurance scheme has also been quiet.

Articles 13 and 146 in the National Constitution point in the direction of government transparency, even in the absence of the long-promised Freedom of Information Act.  The secrecies and confusion over government procurement contracts for roads, sea defences, drainage and irrigation, pharmaceuticals, the One Netbook/Laptop Per Family repeats in the forest sector and does not improve the international standing of Guyana.

Your faithfully
Janette Bulkan

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