Rupununi mining road caused 16 hectares deforestation in 2009/10 – ministry

The Ministry of Natural Resources and the Envi-ronment              says imaging has shown that the Parabara mining road has driven 16 hectares of deforestation in southern Guyana during the years 2009 and 2010 and that there was no new deforestation as a result of it in 2012.

In a letter to Stabroek News which will appear in tomorrow’s edition of the newspaper, Permanent Secretary Joslyn McKenzie said that the Ministry will continue to monitor to ensure compliance and enforcement in this and other mining districts. The Ministry just over a week ago had dispatched a team to investigate claims that a road was being built in the ecologically sensitive areas of the southern reaches of the country. No permission had been given for this road, reports say.

“Regarding queries made on recent infrastructure development in the vicinity of Parabara, the Ministry responded to the Stabroek News and clarified that in 2012 there was no detected change in forest areas caused by the road referred to,” he said. The road is built along one of the richest biodiversity regions in Guyana and prompted a press statement from the Guyana Human Rights Association expressing concern for the consequences for the environment and its inhabitants.

Joslyn McKenzie
Joslyn McKenzie

“The MRVS found that the road is 23km from Parabara mining area, done within a legally issued mining concession, which borders the edge of the forest area into the Southern Rupununi savannah,” said McKenzie.

“The road has driven approximately 16 ha of deforestation and is typically 10 metres wide with some wider spots. Within the MRVS, it was mapped and classified as a 10 metre road, but with some variation in width at points,” McKenzie said. He said that the road then continues through to Aishalton Amerindian village for a further 18 km over the savannah, where it meets a junction of roads that continue on up to Lethem.

Sources said that the road has since been further developed and is heading in the direction of the New River triangle and that a Brazilian national together with Guyanese partner is involved in its construction. The Guyanese partner, a prominent Bartica gold miner, was said to have been granted prospecting permits medium scale (PPMS) in the area by the Guyana Geology and Mines Commission (GGMC) in 2010. It remains unclear why the authorities have not taken action over the road.

“The road has driven approximately 16 ha of deforestation and very little degradation. It lies in the vicinity of Burisanawa, passing through Baboon Hill. Sabernawau village. Sabernawau River and Karaudanawa village,” McKenzie said.

McKenzie said that the Ministry’s previous statement that there was no change in the forest cover in 2012 was correct and noted that this change in the forest cover occurred during 2009/2010.

“In summary, the road was first seen in Landsat 2010 (at 30 m). There is evidence it was built in 2009/2010. There was no additional deforestation in 2012,” he said.

He said that the significant progress in the development of the MRVs has provided a mechanism to inform policies and programmes for medium and long term planning. “The Ministry has been making active steps to not only integrate the MRVS results within its various agencies, but is working on establishing a separate independent, inter-agency, monitoring unit that uses the results of the MRVS,” he said. “We have already commenced an assessment of available daily satellite imagery options to inform this process and are working with key resource personnel in the various sector agencies to develop protocols and procedures for this monitoring system,” he said.

The MRVS, McKenzie said,  has been developed using international good practice guidance that the IPCC provided and sets out annual progressive monitoring of forest cover, relating such monitoring to drivers of deforestation and forest degradation. He said that Government did annual estimates for each year from 2010, 2011 and the 2012.

“To bring context to the commencement annual assessment in 2010, in addition to the annual assessment for that particular year, period summaries for the historic forest cover change for 1990-2000, 2001-2005, and 2006-2009 were performed,” he said. “As required for annual monitoring, changes in forest cover assessment of each annual period only report on change within that period. This is a strict compliance requirement for annual report, based on international guidance. For every reported period, we have been able to methodically report on forest cover change across the five main drivers of deforestation that stem from anthropogenic sources: mining (includes mining infrastructure), forestry (includes forestry infrastructure), agriculture, infrastructure (e.g. those relates to settlements, etc.) and fire,” he said.

McKenzie said that separating out changes specific to each annual period is necessary to ensure that there is no double counting or accumulation of forest cover change from period to period.

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