Gov’t engages forest sector stakeholders

-Aims to strengthen collaboration for increased productivity

Following neglect over the past five years, the Ministry of Natural Resources continues to focus on enhancing the economic viability of the Guyana Forestry Commission through the promotion of sustainable forest management activities, increased production and, value-adding forest products for exports. This is in keeping with the Government’s commitment to supporting forest sector operators to ensure the potentials of the sector are realised through new investments and incentives to the sector, which was evident in Budget 2020 and 2021.

Recently, Natural Resources Minister, Hon. Vickram Bharrat and the Management of the Guyana Forestry Commission met with sawmillers and exporters to discuss opportunities and challenges facing the sector. The meeting was convened to listen to stakeholders and coordinate efforts to promote production and economic benefits.

Minister Bharrat assured the stakeholders present that the Ministry of Natural Resources through the Guyana Forestry Commission will continue to promote and support Forest Sectors Operators involvement in wood processing by sawmills and lumberyards, and exporting of Guyana’s forest produce. Sawmills, lumberyards as well as exporters of forest produce have made significant contributions to the Natural Resources sector. Evidently, over the past 10 years, the GFC has issued approximately 300 sawmill licences annually, he added.

Further, Minister Bharrat stated that the sector contributes significantly to the economy of Guyana by the creation of employment and the expansion of the sawmilling and export market. GFC statistics indicate that between 3000-5000 persons have been employed annually in this very competitive and vastly expanding sector.

He also pointed out that the recently approved Log Export Policy serves as an interim measure by the Government that acknowledges the challenges the industry continues to experience in value- adding and productivity. The policy implemented from 2020-2025 would ensure that Concession Holders, Sawmillers, and Timbers Dealers will be allowed to export Logs at varying export levy rates dependent on which schedules of timber species they fall under.

However, given the financial and other constraints over the past few years, there has been a decrease in exports. Therefore, the Natural Resources Minister encouraged all forest sector stakeholders to recognize the importance and potential of the sector and continue to invest. In this regard, to support an increase in production for domestic consumption and export, the Guyana Forestry Commission will be advertising vacant areas for logging in the Berbice, Demerara, Essequibo, and North West for eligible small, medium, and large-scale forest operations.

Additionally, the Ministry will continue to engage all forest sector operators to explore collaboration in the areas of road maintenance and other incentives to support the sector.

The Ministry of Natural Resources and the Guyana Forestry Commission will continue to engage all forest sector stakeholders to ensure the potentials of the sector are realised by adopting sustainable forest management practices.