DPI, GUYANA, Friday, October 20, 2017
Several projects aimed at building capacity and sensitising stakeholders on the European Union Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade (EU-FLGT) Voluntary Partnership Agreement (VPA) have recorded success.
Today, the grantees of funds received from the National Technical Working Group (NTWG) last year, shared the success of their projects at the Roraima Duke Lodge, Kingston, Georgetown.
Small hinterland loggers, in particular, benefited from these projects. Forestry’s Training Centre Inc, one of the grantees, provided training to 432 persons from 22 community logging associations across Guyana.
Director of the Centre, Quacy Bremner, noted that training was provided in the areas of tree species identification, using GPS devices and decision making. The Forest Training Centre provided the GPS equipment to the associations.
“Most of these community associations they are formed as a means of poverty reduction in communities. They needed to get the skills necessary…so we provided them with that skill set…to make them more economically viable to be in the logging business,” Bremner explained.
Bremer noted that the Centre will continue training of associations on the heels of the success of this project. However, he called for the provision of “some kind of incentive” for persons who participate in training.
A common challenge to the grantees was ensuring persons commit to the training and workshops that were facilitated.
In Region Two, Carol Benjamin, a grantee under the civil society category, sensitised 11 indigenous communities on being properly compliant with the Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA) and the National Insurance Scheme (NIS).
“If they are educated of exactly what they need to do then definitely the boss or the marketing part of it is going to go smooth,” Benjamin said. According to Benjamin, she is determined about ensuring compliance in the forestry sector, not just for the FLGT process.
With support from the GRA and NIS, Benjamin noted that the indigenous communities were very receptive to the information provided. Sensitising the grassroots was a similar project implemented in Region 10 by the Indigenous People’s Commission (IPC).
Representative Neil Bacchus noted that 212 persons were reached in this project. He highlighted that from the outreaches to the indigenous communities in Region 10, it was found there is a need for training on compliance.
However, breaking down the technical terminology of the VPA was a challenge that these projects encountered. This was overcome by the Forest Products Development and Marketing Council (FPDMC).
FPDMC converted the information of the VPA into reader-friendly booklets and calendars which stakeholders can understand and relate to. These were distributed to the grantees and forest sector stakeholders across the value chain in the Demerara, Essequibo and Berbice areas. “We worked with stakeholders who expressed the satisfaction that a direct call for the change in the method in which the information is being shared is more friendly and understandable,” Laura Singh explained.
The NTWG invited proposals from the private sector and the civil society last year. From the proposals received eight were awarded funding. FLGT Facilitator Dr. Alhassan Attah noted these projects fosters greater collaboration between the government and the private sector while enhancing and enriching the VPA process as it moves towards the implementation stage.
By year-end, Guyana will officially sign the VPA with the EU. Once Guyana begins FLEGT licensing, the products covered by the VPA will only be exported to the EU, accompanied by FLEGT licenses attesting to their legality.
The European Union Forest Law Enforcement, Governance, and Trade (EU-FLEGT) programme Action Plan was created in 2003 because of growing concern over the illegal logging of forests, particularly in the tropics. Guyana is one of nine countries that are currently in the FLEGT negotiation process, which uses a licensing system to ensure timber exported to the EU has been harvested in accordance with local laws.
By: Tiffny Rhodius