GFC’s response to protest action staged in front of the Kwakwani Forests Station on 4th May, 2020.

Guyana Forestry Commission, May 5, 2020 – The Guyana Forestry Commission (GFC) acknowledges the protest action staged in front of the Kwakwani Forest Station. Unconfirmed reports have identified the protestors as representatives from Aroaima Forest & Agriculture Producers Association (AFAPA) and Upper Berbice Forest & Agricultural Producers Association (UBFAPA).

It was suggested by the named Associations that the GFC treated them unfairly by not awarding named forest concessions to them.  This is furthest from the truth. In order to provide a clearer picture of these matters the GFC would like to proffer the following response.

Firstly, Section. 6 (4 & 5) of the Forest Act 2009, mandates the GFC to carefully evaluate the technical and financial qualifications, as well as the compliance history of every applicant; to satisfy itself that the said applicant (a) intends in good faith to fulfil the forest concession agreement and (b) has the competence and resources to carry out the type of operations specified in that agreement.

In addition to the foregoing, Regulation 8(2) of the Forest Regulations 2018 stipulates that no forest concession agreement may be granted unless all outstanding fees have been paid or assured to the GFC. Regrettably, some associations have been unable to meet the statutory qualifications set out above.

In and around the 7th February, 2020, the associations in question made several respective applications for vacant forest concessions publicly advertised by the GFC between January and February, 2020.

At the time of the said applications, the records of those already holding concessions were as follows:

Name of Association Folio number acres hectares
AF&APA 1. BCE 05/09 11,535 4,668
  2. BCE 04/13 19,680 7,964
  3. BCE 08/14 9,473 3,834
  4. DEM 16/17 9730 3937
  Total area 50,418 20,403
 

 

     
UBAFAPA 1. NWD 07/19 19,209 7774
  2. NWD 06/19 20,000 8094
  3. ESS 16/17 18,283 7399
  4. BCE 06/01 20,516 8302
  5. BCE 04/18 5,644 2284
  6. BCE 06/02 7435 3009
  7. BCE 02/03 6497 2629
  8. BCE 01/05 12,930 5233
  9. BCE 01/06 11,469 4641
  10. BCE 01/03 14,003 5667
  11. BCE 02/14 17,177 6951
  12. BCE 06/01 20,516 8302
  13. BCE 10/09 11,770 4763
  14. BCE 11/09 7238 2929
  15. BCE 12/09 10,711 4334
  16. BCE 13/09 10,204 4129
  17. BCE 21/11 11,082 4485
  18. BCE 30/11 18,811 7613
  Total area 243,435 98,535
       

Along with the advertisement mentioned above, the GFC also advertised a detailed list of criteria for consideration highlighting for example, that all outstanding sums due and owing to the GFC must be cleared prior to or at the date of the application(s) in order for the said application(s) to be considered.

Notwithstanding indebtedness of the named Associations, the GFC did not weigh these debts heavily against them, since they were both signatories to Memorandums of Understanding with the GFC for the said sums.

However, the GFC could not look past the numerous breaches of the Forest Act over the lifetime of the concessions, neither could it ignore the fact that UBAFAPA controlled eighteen (18) concessions including three (3) large concessions.  The GFC was of the opinion that UBAFPA needed to strengthen their management capacities to properly manage the concessions already awarded to them, before they could be favourably considered for additional concessions.

To this end, the GFC and the Forest Carbon Partnership Facility (FCPF) Secretariat have been working collectively to strengthen the human capacities within these bodies. In fact, a number of workshops were hosted by the FCPF and the named Associations along with several others were in attendance.

As regards AFAPA, this Association failed to submit any supporting documents (with its application) to satisfy the GFC of its competency and or adequacy of resources to carry out another forest operation.

Therefore, and in light of the foregoing, the GFC was of the opinion that at the time of application, neither of the named Associations satisfied the GFC of their respective qualifications (financial and otherwise) to carry out an additional forest operation in good faith.

The forest resources of Guyana are an important component of the nation’s patrimony which must be used for the benefit of all citizens. These forests provide many goods and services especially for indigenous and forest dependent communities which include not only timber, but plants for medicinal purposes, food for wildlife that inhabit the forest and fresh water for all.

Guyana’s forests have, for over the last one hundred and fifty years been principally logged for its commercial timbers. Within recent times most of the accessible near forests have been depleted of known commercial timbers, prompting those involved in logging to seek forest allocations distant from their home base.

The GFC will continue to engage and work with all Associations to strengthen their respective capacities so that they can both manage concessions already in hand, as well as any they may qualify for in the near future.

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