No detected change in forested areas from Parabara Road in 2012; no mining permits issued east of the New River

Dear Editor,

Thank you for allowing the Ministry of Natural Resources and the Environment an opportunity to offer clarification and comment on the recently published article on the Parabara Mining Road. The ministry is appreciative of the continued coverage that Stabroek News has been giving to the developments and progress made in Guyana’s Monitoring Reporting and Verification System (MRVS).

The MRVS has been developed using international good practice guidance provided by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and sets out annual progressive monitoring of forest cover and relates such monitoring to drivers of deforestation and forest degradation. Annual assessments were done for each year from 2010, 2011, the most recent being for year 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. 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 5 main drivers of deforestation that stem from anthropogenic sources: mining (includes mining infrastructure), forestry (includes forestry infrastructure), agriculture, infrastructure (eg, those relating to settlements, etc) and fire. 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.

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. Please recall the introductory comment which explains that the MRVS has advanced to a stage where it can not only report on total change in forest cover, but it can do so by attributing this change to the period that it has occurred in.

The ministry’s comment that there was no further forest cover change in 2012 in the road development was therefore specific to this point, and correct. Further, as the ministry has also clarified, the change in forest cover as a result of the road in the proximity of Parabara emanated since the 2009-2010 period. 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. The road has driven approximately 16ha of deforestation and is typically 10m wide with some wider spots. Within the MRVS, it was mapped and classified as a 10m road, but with some variation in width at points.  The road then continues through to Aishalton Amerindian village for a further 18km over the savannah, where it meets a junction of roads that continue on up to Lethem. The road has driven approximately 16ha of deforestation and very little degradation. It lies in the vicinity of Burisanawa, passing through Baboon Hill, Sabernawau village, Sabemawau River and Karaudanawa village.

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

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 taking 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 along with a real time system of monitoring that will be developed, to actively monitor land use in areas of the mining and forestry sector. 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.

The Guyana Geology and Mines Commission, as part of its monitoring compliance and enforcement programme will continue to monitor this and other mining districts. It’s through such a programme that the GGMC established an outpost at Marudi Bushmouth, which serves the Marudi, Parabara and Wakadanowe areas.

I am further advised that whilst the GGMC had previously received several applications within the New River Triangle area, there are no mining permits issued in the areas east of New River.

 Yours faithfully,

J McKenzie

Permanent Secretary

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