Government intends to introduce the use of permits to authorise importation of foreign wood species, according to Natural Resources Minister Raphael Trotman, who has lamented the need to resort to imports to meet local demand.
Trotman made the disclosure while meeting with representatives of local hardware stores and lumberyards as part of its ongoing consultations on the impact of the high local demand for pine wood imports, particularly from the United States.
Among the local businesses represented were Jettoo’s Lumber Yard, Gafoors, National Hardware, Builders’ Lumber Yard and Chetram’s Lumber Yard.
According to a statement issued by the ministry on Friday, Trotman mentioned the planned introduction of import permits but noted that the government has no intention to ban imports.
It added that the dealers were informed that since Guyana will be initialing the Voluntary Partnership Agreement with the European Union as part of its Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade Action Plan, all forest products imported into the country will have to meet the strict guidelines with reference to the legality of their source.
Trotman, however, told the meeting that the administration finds it troubling that as a strong forest producing country, Guyana has to resort to import wood to meet local demand, which he called untenable.
The statement said that the hardware dealers and lumber suppliers spoke of the difficulties they usually encounter in sourcing local wood for customers as well as their issues with local lumber not being properly kiln-dried and the uncertainty of supply.
It added that some of them also expressed an interest in selling local lumber but noted that the local forest operators were unreliable. They noted too that their customers have shown a preference for the imported pine wood, which has been found to be in reliable supplies and of better quality compared with local woods. For their part, local suppliers have said that they lack financing to bring local products up to the standard of the imports.
In an effort to address the situation, it was decided after discussions with the local businesses, the Guyana Forestry Commission and the Forest Products Development and Marketing Council Guyana Inc. that the ministry will support an exhibition towards the end of October, 2017, when local producers will have an opportunity to display lesser known species of local woods as alternatives to the imported pine and other woods.
The statement added that regular meetings will also be held with the various stakeholders in order to formulate sustainable solutions aimed at benefiting all in the forestry sector.