Message by Hon. Vickram Bharrat M.P
Minister of Natural Resources
In observance of International Day of Forests 2022
Guyana joins with the rest of the world in celebrating International Day of Forests 2022. The theme for this year’s commemoration is “Forests and sustainable production and consumption”.
In our everyday life, whether we realize it or not, we are dependent on the forest. The water we drink, the shelter we provide for ourselves, the books our children read, the medicines we take, all have connections to the forest. The forest sustains life in so many ways, one of which is the economy, though our focus often times is principally on that. From a global perspective, forests also play a crucial role in poverty alleviation and in the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
In Guyana, the forest sector is a significant part of our economy. The sector provides employment to approximately 20,000 persons, with a timber production output of between 350,000 to 450,000 m3 annually, and with export revenues of US$30 M to US$60 M annually, and directly supports over 60 forest-based communities in providing sustainable livelihood opportunities in the forest sector. These successes have been built through years of continuous progress in developing strong forest management and governance systems that provides the overarching framework for sustainable forest management in Guyana. These includes Codes of Practice, the national log tracking and tagging system, forest inventory, annual planning for timber harvesting, and community development structures.
Guyana has already delivered on forest governance, transparency, international certification, community forestry and forest legality systems. With the advancement of work on the EU Forest Law Enforcement Governance and Trade initiative Guyana is making steady progress in the roadmap to EU FLEGT licensing of Guyana’s timber products; along with this, the Guyana Forestry Commission has coordinated a multi stakeholder process to inform the development of a country standard for forest certification; and the forest sector’s flagship programme on community and social forestry has resulted to date in over 1 million acres of State Forest Lands being allocated to communities for sustainable forestry activities and community development. This speaks to real progress, that impacts positively in the economy and the everyday life of Guyanese living in communities and villages across our country.
Forest sustainable management and their use of resources are key to combating climate change, and to contributing to the prosperity and well-being of current and future generations. Around 1.6 billion people depend directly on forests for food, shelter, energy, medicines and income. The world is however losing 10 million hectares of forest each year – about the size of Iceland. Yet despite all these priceless ecological, economic, social and health benefits, global deforestation continues at an alarming rate.
Guyana’s Low-carbon Development Strategy – the LCDS 2030 – sets out a vision for rising to this challenge. The current and first draft outlines how we can re-double our efforts to build a low-carbon economy in Guyana – through low-carbon energy; employment and development opportunities for all sections of our society; a transformation of digital, marine and transportation infrastructure; and massive investment in adapting to the impacts of climate change. The LCDS 2030 also sets out how we can build a platform for the economy of the future – a lowcarbon economy – where our world-class forest, biodiversity, water and marine resources are valued for the vital contribution they make to the health of our planet.
In its annual assessment of global risks, the World Economic Forum called climate action failure the number one risk this decade. Guyana’s LCDS 2030, outlines how our country will be contributing through a national scale commitment to maintain 18 million hectares of forest under sustainable management. With forest area equal to the size of the UK, Guyana is open to investing 19.5 gigatons of CO2 of its forest carbon stock to the Ambition for 1.50C target and stands strongly behind this global target. Over the most recent 10-year period monitoring Guyana and independently verified by the University of Durham, UK, Guyana has started and ended the decade at 0.05% deforestation rate. The average deforestation rate globally in 2020 was 0.51%.
As we commemorate International Day of Forest, the Government of Guyana stands firm on its commitment to maintaining forests, whilst providing opportunities for the private sector in sustainable forest management investments, and at the same time sustaining livelihood opportunities for communities and villages that depend on the forest. In so doing, Guyana’s priorities and actions continue to support the future for our world where forests are sustainably managed, community livelihood opportunities are fostered, and the life of our planet itself is safeguarded.