The species proposed by Pinnacle Group for biomass not suitable for this climate, Pomeroon soils

Dear Editor,

Your report ‘US$35M pact inked with Pinnacle Group for bio-energy other projects’ (SN, 14 October 2014) does not say if IAST or the Government has checked the credentials of The Pinnacle Group which is said to have offices in Hong Kong and Singapore. There are indeed companies registered in those places which have somewhat similar names but they appear to be conference organisers or executive recruiters. There is nothing which I could find on the internet about Pinnacle Group’s expertise in biomass production or wood pellet processing.

The Pinnacle Group apparently proposes to grow the woody species Leucaena leucocephala (one of whose vernacular names is ‘jumbie bean’) as a main source of biomass. This Central American native species is very variable in growth habit, from a small shrub to a small tree. Extensive formal trials of many varieties in several tropical countries were coordinated by a network based in Hawai’i, where some of the giant or tree-type varieties will be or are being used as power station fuel; see http://www.pacificwestenergy.com/Pages/KauaiProject.aspx. However, Leucaena only grows rapidly as a tree to economic size in drier climates on alkaline (limestone) soils. I am not aware of large areas of such climate or soils in Pomeroon.

Here are four additional examples of land grabs that proposed tree plantations of species that will not grow in Guyana’s hinterland soils:

►the 4000 ha of Paulownia plantations proposed by Tropical Paulownia Tree Farms Ltd. (from India with a subsidiary in Nevis) on the abandoned cotton lands at Kimbia in 2001;

►the US-based Clenergen Corporation proposal for clonal (or possibly GMO) plantations under advice from a university in Tamil Nadu (a proposal disavowed by Minister Robert Persaud in May 2010);

►another proposal for Paulownia emanating from the Project Management Office in the Office of Climate Change in the Office of the President in August 2010;

►a revived proposal from Clenergen in September 2011 for Paulownia and bamboo.

Potential investors might like to check on this venture associated with the Institute of Applied Science and Technology, especially recalling the IAST’s failed claims about commercial oil palm production in the North West District.

Yours faithfully,

Janette Bulkan

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