Guyana’s deforestation rate has jumped to 0.079% and the country stands to lose up to 45% of funds that it would have earned for 2012 under the Guyana-Norway forest protection partnership.
“It would appear as if a very significant portion of the funds could be cut,” head of Conservation International- Guyana, Dr. David Singh told Stabroek News yesterday when contacted on the latest data. He emphasised that while he would not like to cause alarm, the latest figures are significant. “I do believe that there is going to be a significant reduction (of funds from Norway) as a result of this,” he said. For 2011, Guyana earned US$45 million under the partnership, with the deforestation rate for that period being 0.054%, which was lower than the rate for the previous period.
The latest figures released by the forest consulting company Indurfor and the Guyana Forestry Commission (GFC) are currently being independently verified by the University of Durham. Stakeholders’ views are also being sought and a final version of the report, which will be informed by feedback from the public review process, will be released after that period ends. Stakeholders have until November 16 to send in comments on the report.
Under the Guyana-Norway partnership, payments are result-based with deforestation and forest degradation measured against an agreed level. Guyana could earn up to US$250 million from Oslo in performance-based payments for the period up until 2015, based on an independent verification of Guyana’s deforestation and forest degradation rates and progress on REDD+ enabling activities.
The Interim Measures Report Year 3 covers the period 1 January 2012 to 31 December 2012. Mining is the main driver of deforestation, the report says.
“Forest change of forest to non-forest excluding degradation between 1 January 2012 and 31 December 2012 (12 months) is estimated at 14 655 ha. Over the Year 3 reporting period, this equates to a total deforestation rate of 0.079%. This rate of change is higher than Year 2 period (15 months) which was reported as 0.054%,” the report says. It added that the accuracy of the 2012 results is still being assessed independently by the University of Durham. This assessment is due at the end of November.
Under the updated Joint Concept Note (JCN) of the Guyana-Norway partnership, Guyana will be eligible for full payment if the deforestation rate does not exceed 0.056%. For deforestation rates between 0.056% and 0.1%, eligibility for payments would be calculated as a gradually decreasing percentage of the payments that would be due. At deforestation rates at or above 0.1 %, no payments would be due to Guyana for that given year.
In illustrating how compensation would be reduced if deforestation exceeds the 0.056% rate, according to the JCN, at a deforestation rate of 0.07% compensation would be reduced by 25%; at a deforestation rate of 0.08%, compensation would be reduced by 45%; at a deforestation rate of 0.09%, compensation would be reduced by 70%; and if the deforestation rate reached 0.1%, no payments would be due to Guyana.
The report says that the main deforestation driver for Year 3 is mining, which accounts for 93% of the deforestation in this period. This continues a trend of mining being responsible for over 90% of deforestation since assessments began.
“It should be noted that the driver of mining, includes mining infrastructure. A majority (83%) of deforestation is observed in the State Forest Area. The temporal analysis of forest change post 1990 indicates that most of the change is clustered around existing road infrastructure and navigable rivers. In Year 3 the change has continued to follow this trend with further expansion relatively constrained. This is evident from the decrease in the area of degradation,” the report says.
For Year 3, a greater level of detail was obtained using higher resolution satellite imagery than previous years. The latest report shows that the Monitoring, Reporting and Verification (MRV) system, which is expected to show how well the country is doing in relation to management of its forests “from a deforestation rate point of view,” is functional, Dr. Singh said. “There is now an MRV system in place that is working and that is a good thing,” he said.
The conservationist also said that given the results, the rate at which the funds from Norway are reaching the ground is of concern. “If the funds are not coming in, maybe it’s difficult to transition the country towards a low-carbon path,” he said. Dr. Singh emphasised that there should be an examination of whether the programmes funded under the agreement are directed to address the drivers of deforestation. In light of Year 3 results, these drivers have to be addressed with it being clear that Guyana would lose money if these are not tackled, he said.
Meantime, the report says that the information provides a useful basis for planning an on-going monitoring programme that focuses on key hotspot areas and assists in the development of policies that can mitigate potential impacts of deforestation. These include but are not limited to the implementation of the National Land Use Plan as well as the newly developing Strategic Plan for the natural resources sector, it says.
“The findings of this assessment will enable targets for REDD+ activities to be designed, that aim to bring about the largest positive impact in maintaining forest cover while enabling continued sustainable development and improved livelihoods for Guyanese,” the report says.