A forester with knowledge of forestry issues here has written to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature protesting its appointment of former President Bharrat Jagdeo as its high-level envoy for sustainable development in forest countries.
John Palmer, Senior Associate, Forest Management Trust, Gainesville, Florida and who has written letters to the press here on forestry issues, said that during Jagdeo’s 12-year tenure the national forest policy of 1997 and the national forest plan of 2001 have been “comprehensively ignored” and exports of unprocessed logs to Asia have risen sharply.
He added that illegal logging has increased together with gold mining in forested areas.
In his letter to Stewart Maginnis, Head of the IUCN Forest Conservation Programme which appeared on the redd-monitor.org website, Palmer charged that “A small number of Jagdeo’s crony capitalists and an increasing number of Chinese national log traders have become wealthy while prime commercial timbers are being overcut by 30 times the natural rate of regeneration. All this information is in the local Press in Guyana and could easily have been checked by IUCN.”
Postulating that IUCN was swayed by the presence of Jagdeo at international meetings, calling for fast disbursement of donor funds for avoided deforestation, Palmer said that in Guyana there is no credible threat of increased deforestation because the hinterland soils are among the most infertile in the world.
He said that a proposal by McKinsey & Company in 2008 to Jagdeo based on the notorious McKinsey carbon cost abatement calculations ignored the infertility of the soils and other factors but that based on this 2008 study, Jagdeo called for international donors to provide him with around USD 580 million per year for avoided deforestation. “Only Norway responded, apparently in furtherance of its commitment towards carbon neutrality by 2030 while continuing to pump oil and gas from its massive reserves. Although Norway has transferred USD 70 million to a World Bank trust fund, no money has yet been disbursed from that fund, at least in part because the Office of the President in Guyana has been incapable of putting together project proposals which are rational in terms of national development or which comply with WB environmental and social safeguards”, Palmer said.
He argued that under ex-President Jagdeo, Guyana has made no explicit commitment to reduce emissions of carbon from deforestation or forest degradation.
Palmer called on the IUCN to be more careful in the future.