The National Technical Working Group (NTWG) in partnership with the FLEGT Secretariat continues to conduct consultation sessions with Amerindian Villages across the country as a key stakeholder. These sessions are done according to the Schedule for National consultation on the Guyana-European Union Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade Voluntary Partnership Agreement (FLEGT VPA) process, and the Joint roadmap of key activities which were agreed between Guyana and the EU. Since 2013, consultation sessions continue to encourage the holistic participation of different stakeholder types within the forest sector, and are used to garner stakeholders’ feedback which is critical for the development of the VPA. This approach has been widely accepted since it improves communication and transparency throughout the process, and fosters a closer means of collaboration through the sharing of experiences and knowledge among stakeholders.
On January 31st 2017, a consultation session was held within the Amerindian Village of Greatfalls located on the right bank of the Demerara River. Travelling up by boat, the FLEGT team met with village members to discuss and distribute updated versions of the VPA Annexes as well information booklets and guides relating to FLEGT and the Guyana Timber Legality Assurance System (GTLAS). A total of 25 persons participated in the session, including the village’s Toshao Nicole Daniels, and other members of the Village Council. Like the village of Rockstone, attendance comprised of both youths and adults. Some of the key action points arising from the discussion includes; requests for workshops with the National Insurance Scheme (NIS) and Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA) to clarify the steps involved in becoming NIS and Tax compliant. The village also expressed the need for a GPS upgrade and better access to snake bite kits. Additionally, members of the village strongly believe that training in First-aid, Timber Grading, GPS and General practices associated with tracing timber are all essential in order to meet key Forest Sector Operator (FSO) requirements of the VPA. A summary of these action points are being recorded for each session, and will be shared with the NTWG, relevant agencies and EU.
Finally, to assist the village in meeting some of the social requirements under the VPA, the team will be providing a template of the Accident Register, and Safety Gears Issuance Register; two records that are required under the Occupational Health and Safety Act of Guyana. This Act as well as other Laws (relevant to Guyana’s forest sector) form the basis for the legislative framework of the VPA. The next session will be held at the Bina Hill Institute (Region 9), and will involve the Amerindian villages of Apoteri, Kamwatta, Crash Water, Santa Fe, Annai, Yakarinta, Rewa, Kwatamang, Massara and Yupukari.