Region 10 forest operators sensitised on ‘Environmental Authorisation’

  • process welcomed

DPI, Guyana, Saturday, December 8, 2018

“I knew it was necessary for things like gas stations but I never really saw a connection between Environmental Authorisation and the forest operations. So, now that I have been informed, I can clearly see the importance.”

That was forest operator Naomi Smith, one of the participants from the Upper Demerara-Berbice Region who participated in the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) workshop on Environmental Authorisation.

Kwakwani, Ituni, Great Falls, 58 Miles, Hururu and Araiama were the communities that benefitted from the workshop.

The exercise focused on sensitising forest operators on the European Union/ Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade (EU/FLEGT) agreement with Guyana to protect the environment. Hence, the move by the EPA, to get all forest operators on board with best environmental practices in order to mitigate any negative impact on the environment that may result from their actions.

EPA, Senior Environmental Officer, Karen Small-Senior said the agency recently received funding to undertake the project entitled “Building capacity building assistance to community forest organizations on the Environmental Authorisation process in Guyana.”

Small-Senior said in the past, the EPA only targeted the larger forest operators, but noted that the funding which amounts to approximately $21.7Million ($US104,000) will now facilitate capacity building workshops countrywide.

She noted that aim is to have all operators become authorised in keeping with Section 14 of the Environmental Act. The act states that: “before harvesting and utilising of forest resources, an operator must first seek permission from the Environmental Protection Agency.”

“The Environmental Authorization should be first development of consent, meaning before you get authorisation from any other government body, you need an Environmental Authorisation and that is why we are here today; to inform the loggers that they need an authorisation” Small-Senior underscored.

During the workshop, forest operators were given a full overview of the EPA and its operations, educated on the need to have authorisation and taken step-by-step through the process of applying.

Celine Thomas of Hururu, welcomed the capacity building workshop, “it is beneficial for us and we are grateful because even if we thought it was the right way, now we know for sure what is right, what is wrong, what we should and should not do. We are going to try our best do what is right and to work with them hand in hand.”

Similar sentiments were echoed by Rickford Allicock of 58 Miles who has been in the business for just over a year. “The things that we learnt today and the knowledge we got on the Environmental Authorisation and how to obtain it was really enlightening and I did not know it was so important. So, it was during the workshop when we realised that we needed to do what is right” Allicock stated.

The EPA within the next year will be conducting similar workshops countrywide to bring more forest operators on board to be authorised. The Environmental Authorisation application process cost $10,000 ($US50) and once approved $20,000 ($US100) per year or a max environmental authorisation at $100,000 ($US500) for five years.

Isaiah Braithwaite

Images: Anil Seelall

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