The huge forestry concession in the north west of Guyana relinquished by Barama Company Limited (BCL) has been quartered and one portion will be set aside for conservation.
This was disclosed on Thursday by Natural Resources Minister Raphael Trotman. At the briefing at the Guyana Geology and Mines Commission on Brickdam, the Minister said that another portion of the 1.6 million hectares will be made available to small loggers who are interested in pursuing sustainable logging activities, while the remaining two will be open to multinational companies interested in operating larger concessions in an environmentally sustainable way.
Trotman noted that the Guyana Forestry Commission (GFC) has been advertising the concessions in the media here as well as in major forestry magazines and websites regionally, and internationally for expressions of interest for State Forest Exploratory permits. The deadline for submission of applications is January 20, 2016.
The processing of applications will begin after the deadline for submission has closed and “we will begin a new chapter of greater sustainability practices in forestry and a reinvigorated focus on value added”, Trotman said.
He noted that BCL had begun the process of closing out its operations here and the Ministry through the GFC is continuing to monitor this process. The Ministry of Social Protection will engage the company directly on matters related to its workers, he added.
In a surprise announcement in October this year, BCL said it would not be seeking a renewal of its 25-year-old forest concession agreement with government and would be scaling back its operations.
Barama General Manager Mohindra Chand had told Stabroek News that approximately 500 of the company’s 800 workers would be affected in the transition. Of the total workforce, he noted, 15% are foreigners. The figure of 500 included 180 workers who had been let go earlier in the year because of a market slowdown.
Meanwhile, at Thursday’s press conference, Trotman said that Guyana has stepped closer during 2016 to the submission of an application to become a member of the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative. Membership of this body is intended to enable transparency in relation to proceeds from natural resources. The process has taken on greater urgency following the large offshore oil find.
Trotman said that Guyana’s tripartite body of industry, civil society and government representatives had been established and has been awaiting the appointment of a National Coordinator to create a work plan and complete the necessary processes for the submission of an application for candidacy.
“We are happy to report that such a person has recently been identified, in the person of Dr. Rudy Jadoopat, an economist by training, and overseas-based Guyanese who will be returning to take up the position.
“We had hoped to be able to submit our application for candidacy before December 31, but due to the delayed identification of a Coordinator, that time line has to be adjusted to the end of January; which will be well in time for the February 2017 deadline”, Trotman reported.