Commissioner of the Guyana Forestry Commission (GFC) James Singh says that over 400,000 bm [Board Measure] of lesser utilised species of timber was harvested last year as the agency has been working closely with the Central Housing and Planning Authority (CH&PA) to increase their use.
Speaking on Tuesday at a GFC press conference, Singh was questioned about the use of lesser known species in the industry. He confirmed that the usage has significantly increased since the GFC has been collaborating with the CH&PA, which will continue.
“We have been working very closely with the CH&PA and we are pleased to inform that last year over 400,000 bm of lesser used species of wood was incorporated into those low cost houses [for the] CH&PA and we are working feverishly with them to increase that number and to educate the producers that they have to produce the kind of quality and a reliable supply,” Singh said.
He also noted that an expo that will be held before the second half of the year by the GFC will focus heavily on lesser known and used species. He added that they are examining and addressing the issue from all angles and since their collaboration with the CH&PA the term “lesser known species” will be used less since they are being employed in “very, very common applications.”
With reference to other plans for the new year, a performance report from the Commission says that they will be encouraging added value. Singh had also noted that while the value-added section of the industry has increased, it is not at the level that they want it to be. For years, the GFC has been challenged to ensure more value-added activity.
“The Ministry [of Natural Resources], working with the GFC and the board, will look to create a stronger platform for encouraging added value forest activities in 2018. Among some of the immediate measures are increasing efficiency and productivity of wood processing operations, and exploring the provision of incentives that can be provided to the wood processing sector to enhance competitiveness,” the report said.
The Forest Products Development and Marketing Council of Guyana (FPDMC) will also continue to work to promote and create awareness of the use of the lesser used specifies within the sector. While the lesser used species will be highly recommended by the FPDMC as a viable alternative to some of the higher priced species, it will also be advised that there are suitable pre-treatment of timber products, such as drying, to ensure longevity.
“It is expected that there will be further testing of a number of additional species to expand the number of species and their application. The council has also completed the update and reprinting of its fourth edition of lesser used species handbook for homeowners. This publication highlights lesser used species which are suitable for specific applications,” the report noted.
One of the measures the GFC had instituted last year to create a more level playing field for persons in the industry was to place a restriction on the importation of Pine Wood and Pine Wood products from the starting of this year.
The report stated that the move is expected to streamline the importation of Pine Lumber into Guyana and also allow more effective monitoring of pine lumber. Additionally, Guyana’s request to increase the Common External Tariff (CET) on Pine Wood and Pine Wood products from five percent to 40% was approved and took effect from the starting of the year until the ending of next year.
The report indicated that imported pine amounts to over 60,000 cubic meters every year and last year, imported pine exceeded the primary production of local lumber, which was recorded at 40,000 cubic meters.
Prior to instituting the move, the report says that the local producers were at a disadvantage and were being pushed out of business.
“Notwithstanding the issue of quality of local lumber, the imported pine selling price and other factors such as reliable domestic supply was disadvantageous to local operations. The raising of the CET is not intended to stop the importation of pine neither it is a restriction on the importation of pine. This measure will enable more competitiveness in the sector and also encourage and drive efficiency, quality and increase in production of local lumber,” the report noted, while stating that the move is expected to influence job creation, income generation and a general rise in the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of the forestry sector.
The report also emphasised that the Commission will be working on a forest inventory, which $120 million has been set aside for.
This year is also expected to see additional forest areas allocated, and exploration of opportunities for Non Timber Forest Products and Environmental Services – conservation, value and carbon value. Additional incentives for the forestry industry and approval of the National Forest Plan and National Forest Policy Statement 2011 are also expected to be completed.