…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.
The Mayor and City Council (M&CC) has resorted to public donations to raise funds for the restoration of the dilapidated City Hall, and donation boxes will be placed at strategic locations for contributions.Georgetown Mayor Ubraj Narine said in a statement that persons will be able to contribute to the restoration activity since there has not been much progress in recent times.“We want persons to be able to contribute towards saving City Hall if they wish to…City Hall is an important piece of Guyana’s history and there has been lots of talk about rehabilitating the structure, but not much has materialised. I, however, would like to be the one to see City Hall get the attention that is needed so that the structure could be returned to its once prestigious state,” he said.Just last week, Narine gave members of the diplomatic community in Guyana a tour of the city’s dilapidated structures in a bid to solicit funds for City Hall’s restoration. In addition to City Hall, the diplomats also toured the Stabroek Market Wharf, which is on the verge of collapse. A few other sites which were toured included the Municipality Day Care Centre and the City Constabulary Training Centre.On July 8, the Council moved a motion to see the establishment of a Restoration Fund Committee to help fast track the rehabilitation process of the historic building. Although nine committee members were elected, Mayor Narine had informed that this committee will be extended to include other stakeholders such as the private sector, the Chambers of Commerce, the National Trust, the Department of Tourism, civil society, and others.Back in February, the European Union (EU) had handed over a document to the Mayor in relation to the restoration of City Hall’s deplorable structure and ways in which the space can be utilised to garner independent revenues.EU Ambassador to Guyana Jernej Videtic made the presentation to which he stated that some £280,000 was expended to craft the document, bringing new ideas to the restoration project. He noted that some plans include using the historic building as a tourism spot where it can be booked for special events to earn money.The M&CC had pegged the overhaul of the City Hall building at over $400 million. However, other sections have deteriorated further and the administration had opted to constructive a temporary building for staffers.