…as EU-FLEGT agreement to be finalised by mid-yearStricter monitoring regulations and better market access for the logging sector is on the horizon as the Guyana Forestry Commission (GFC) is expected to finalise the Voluntary Partnership Agreement (VPA) as a part of the European Union Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade (EU-FLEGT) initiative, by the end of June 2018.GFC head, James SinghThe GFC said when the agreement is finalised it would create greater access and more lucrative market opportunities for Guyana’s forest products to the EU and other markets.A Voluntary Partnership Agreement (VPA) is a legally binding trade agreement between the European Union and a timber-producing country outside the EU. The purpose of a VPA is to ensure that timber and timber products exported to the EU come from legal sources. The agreements also helps timber-exporting countries stop illegal logging by improving regulation and governance of the forestry sector.The Commission added that they are also embarking on initiatives to expand local and regional trade of forest products by improving marketing, product development and quality.Guyana joined the EU Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade (FLEGT) initiative. The FLEGT system mandates countries to use the Wood Tracking System to tag logs and their stumps so that when it reaches the point of export it could be traced backed to the origin to ensure its legality. The system is not new to Guyana since they have been mandating loggers to tag their produce, so they can track them to ensure it is within their licensed agreement.The EU FLEGT Regulation of 2005 empowers the European Commission to negotiate (VPAs with timber-exporting countries; under these agreements, VPA partner countries ensure they only export to the EU legal products carrying FLEGT licences.Forest InventoryThe last time an inventory was done on the forest was in the 1950s and according to the GFC, having an inventory is critical towards better management of the resource. Hence, the reason for setting aside $120 million for the commencement of a national forest inventory.“With so much importance attached to the forest both in terms of timber production and more importantly the whole issue of climate change and environmental services, the Government has recognised the need to conduct a national forest inventory. The allocation (of $120 million) is to commence phase one of a three-year process,” the GFC notes.The monies, according to the Commission, will be utilised to develop modern inventory methodologies, the reporting platform, data collection design, sample plots and pilots of over 200,000 hectares of forest.According the Commissioner of the GFC, James Singh, with the establishment of the forest inventory, Guyana would be moving towards harvesting based on species rather than just filling a quota hence resulting in the better management of the precious forest.“The forest inventory gives you a sense of what the resource base is so if you know what the resource base is, you can market properly, we can plan our operations and we can have a long-term plan rather than cutting on what is available. It also helps with the better management of the forest,” he explained.The GFC noted that the inventory is critical to supporting the Green State Development Strategy.
Satellite image of the Indus River basin in Pakistan and India Photo Credit : WikipediaIndian and Pakistani officials will discuss in New Delhi on Thursday and Friday the Permanent Indus Commission (PIC), established under the Indus Waters Treaty.The PIC is mandated to establish and maintain cooperative arrangements for the implementation of the treaty and to promote cooperation between the two sides in developing the Indus water systems.The 113th meeting of the Commission was held in Pakistan in March last year. The 114th meeting in New Delhi will cover technical grounds.Pakistan has been protesting over the design and construction of two projects – the 330 MW Kishanganga hydroelectric project and the 850 MW Ratle hydroelectric project – by India on the tributaries of the Indus in Jammu and Kashmir.The Indus Waters Treaty was signed in 1960 and involves six rivers: the Beas, Ravi, Sutlej, Indus, Chenab and Jhelum.Brokered by the World Bank, the treaty gave the right to use waters of the first three rivers to India and of the other three rivers to Pakistan.India has said it has the right under the treaty to set up hydropower plants on the tributaries of the rivers flowing through its territory. Pakistan fears this might reduce the water flow into its territory.