Guyana’s representative to the Food and Agriculture Organi-zation (FAO) Reuben Robertson warned yesterday that forest degradation is on the rise while President Donald Ramotar noted that critical international financing is lacking.
These remarks were made at commemorative ceremony for International Day of Forest and the Trees held at the International Conference Centre yesterday.
Ramotar said the global community has not supported the activities of protected forests such as Iwokrama. He excluded the Kingdom of Norway noting that the government of Norway has been of great support.
Guyana lost US$22.7 million as a result of increased deforestation in 2012 as well as for its sloth in moving to join a transparency initiative under its forest protection agreement with Norway. Guyana and Norway have a five-year pact under which Oslo will pay up to US$250 million based on Guyana’s efforts in protecting its forest and meeting enabling indicators.
The president said the global community has a forest reserve in Iwokrama to study the affects of forest deforestation, degradation and climate change impact, but it has still not stepped up to facilitate the agency. He stated that at a recent visit to the UN subcommittee he challenged global supporters to put their money where the mouths were.
Robertson for his part said, “Forest degradation which is a reduction in the biomass density by human interaction and other natural phenomena has increased from 0.4 to 1.0 gigatonnes of carbon over the period 1990 to 2015 which is very alarming.”
Deforestation rates globally have declined by 25% in the past 15 years. Guyana, according to the Guyana Forestry Commis-sion, has one of the lowest deforestation rates globally, 0.09% in 2012 and 0.06% in 2013.
Robertson cautioned that to neglect degradation would only lead to an imbalance of the Earth’s carbon, which in turn would fuel climate change. The World Wildlife Fund has stated that forest degradation is dangerous as it makes it easier for full deforestation to occur in the long run.
Robertson said Guyana was leading by example and the FAO had pledged its full support to continuing effective sustainable forest management.
His call was echoed by Professor Floriano Pastore of the International Tropical Timber Organization (ITTO), whose presentation transfixed those in attendance especially the various school children who attended.
The professor said, “Satellites are increasingly acute and almost can digitally see a bee in the jungle almost in real time…the eyes behind the satellite cannot see the enormous difficulties associated with the real sustainable development.”
He urged that “a few centimeters on the map” are days of jungle travelling and the human impact on the forest cannot be denied. Speaking directly to the students present, he told them that to learn from native cultures was one critical step in maintenance and forest protection.
Pastore said that learning from indigenous groups was vital as well as tackling the government legislative difficulties with land rights and even facing the potential loss of jobs due to forest protection.
He said since the creation of the ITTO under the UN umbrella finding the balance of protecting timber which became an environmental commodity is ongoing, “bad or over production of timber, poor quality forests. On the other side safe timber production, good forests…how can we expect that a company will decide by fair means the right point between the private immediate interest [and] the collective future interest? For sure, it is a difficult task.”