Twelve young people from several regions across Guyana have been equipped with the knowledge to assist their indigenous communities in sustainable forest management, following a two-week training programme with the Guyana Forestry Commission (GFC).
The training is said to be the first part of an eight-month-long programme, titled “Promoting sustainable forestry in Indigenous Peoples’ Communities through capacity building and direct participation in the European Union [EU] FLEGT VPA (Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade Voluntary Partnership Agreement) process.”
It follows an agreement signed between the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the National Toshaos’ Council (NTC) under the FAO EU FLEGT programme, which saw the NTC receiving an estimated US$50,000 to execute the programme.
In relation to the training done, Sunday Stabroek understands that the 12 youth travelled from regions One, Two, Seven and Ten to undergo training in Reduced Impact Logging (RIL) practices, which was done by the GFC at its Forestry Training Centre at Manaka, on the Essequibo River.
The participants will be returning to their respective communities, where they are expected to serve as support personnel to the village councils on forestry related issues for a period of eight months.
According to the terms of their contract, each participant is expected to provide support to their village councils in the area of forest management and administration, based on the knowledge obtained during the training course; assist the village council and loggers with record keeping, budgeting and logistics where necessary; and provide support to village councils on community based forestry as they set up projects in their communities, among other duties.
Joseph Henry, a participant from the village of Kwebana, in Region One, said the programme has put him in a position to assist his community in establishing a forest management system. “The main economic activity in Kwebana is logging and coming on this training I wasn’t too informed about the concept of forestry management and so but after the two weeks I gained a lot. Illegal logging is a major problem in Kwebana and today going back to my community, I think I would be able to better educate the villagers. Like most of the loggers there go without safety gears and I think they need more education on that,” Joseph said.
Similar sentiments were shared by Merlyn Hercules, of Kabakaburi, Region Two, who said, “We seem to lack proper management of our forest, most of the time we people just cutting wild without any management of the forest.”
“Throughout the two weeks we were taught some critical information…I am really going to try my best when I get back home to see what changes we can make,” she added.