Guyana could lose over US$20M from Norway
Guyana is at the risk of losing an estimated US$20 million from its forest-saving deal with Norway. This follows a new report, which shows increased levels of deforestation in 2012. Under the five-year forest-saving deal with Norway, Guyana needed to monitor the amount of the forest cut down, and to keep it at a level agreed to by the two countries.
Once Guyana kept its end of the deal, it would bank US$250 million, but now a chunk of that could be lost. The reason is that under the agreement with Norway, the amount of trees being chopped down, or what is called deforestation, was set at 0.07%, but a monitoring and evaluation exercise found that last year, the level of deforestation was 0.079%, so that was more than allowed under the agreement between Guyana and Norway. If you convert the percentage into figures, it means that more than 36, 000 acres of forests were cut down in 2012, that was about 9, 000 acres more than that cut down the year before.
The Minister with responsibility for forestry, Robert Persaud, was not ready to be forthright in saying that because of the increase in deforestation Guyana could lose the Norwegian funds, but he did anyhow. The Minister said that a University contracted by the Guyana Forestry Commission, plus an independent team from Norway has to verify the report on the increased level of deforestation has to be confirmed before it could be said with certainty that the US$20 million or so in Norwegian funds could be lost. The use of new technology, namely satellite imaging, helped to detect the increased levels of deforestation, the Minister said. However, he would not agree that the absence of such accurate technology at the time of the signing of the agreement could mean that the two parties did not have a clear picture of the state of the country’s forests.
The Minister said that 36, 000 acres of forest cut down in 2012 is nothing to be alarmed about since the country’s total forest cover, taking into account including Amerindian lands and protected areas, amounts to over 45 million acres. One of the main factors driving deforestation in Guyana is mining, and the minister emphasised that the government is interested in robust legislation and the enforcement of related guidelines to manage both mining and forestry, and the management of all natural resources for that matter.