FAO-EU FLEGT Programme near completion

DPI, Guyana, Tuesday, April 9, 2019

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)  is holding a series of workshops to better inform Community Forest Organisations (CFOs) about their duties and requirements as they look to legally carry out their operations.

This is a collaboration between the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) EU Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade (FLEGT) Programme, whose project entails “Providing Capacity Building Assistance to Community Forest Organizations (CFOs) on the Environmental Authorization Process in Guyana.

The workshops are being conducted by a team of officers from the EPA across several forestry engaged communities. Thus far, the officers have been able to target and better inform approximately 200 persons about the requirements needed to be granted an Environmental Authorisation, which can only be granted from the EPA.

The project is funded under the FAO-EU Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade (FLEGT) Programme. It is  part of a global network of actors supported by the EU to implement the FLEGT Action Plan in response to the global environmental, economic and social consequences of the illegal timber trade.

Speaking exclusively with the Department of Public Information (DPI), representatives from various CFOs gave their  views on the initiative and how it may have benefitted them.

Most notable amongst these was Ramnarine Persaud, a young man who was ecstatic to meet the EPA team for the first time.

“We’ve been operating with state forest permission for about 5 years, and we have never known about the EPA, it wasn’t until last week when they really came in and gave us notice of this workshop meeting, and it’s good that they have this workshop to show us how to operate and get our license to operate legally.”

He was followed by an older Gilbert George who wasn’t too excited to hear about any workshop, as most times it resulted in him having to pay money, however, according to him, this one was different.

“This workshop was different, it told us about the environment and protecting the environment, as well as how we could sustain it for the future generations. It also thought us how to keep working and building with the environment and build ourselves as a community and a group.”

He explained that he has heard a lot of the EU-FLEGT fund and while he knows he may not be a direct beneficiary of it, he is adamant that at the end of the day, his children and his country would benefit.

Providing a breakdown of the project was Senior Environmental Officer Candace Thompson. “We have a fusion of CFOs from Regions 3 and 4 participating in this workshop, and it actually familiarises them, not only with the work of the Environmental Protection Agency, but more so educated them on the process and the procedure as it relates to applying for an environmental authorisation. So, ultimately, the goal of this project is to equip CFOs with the requisite knowledge and skills that they need to become authorised and remain compliant.”

Sixty-nine CFOs are being targeted, of which thirty-seven have already been reached and an additional ten met at today’s event. Two more workshops will be held to conclude the programme; one tomorrow at the Guyana Forestry Commission’s Yarrowkabra Training Facility, and another in Region 3. To date they have interacted with approximately 264 persons from CFOs.

Nikosi Bruce.

Images: Jules Gibson.