The call by the Civil Society Group Article 13 for the immediate ban of log exports is emotional and non-fact-based.
Similarly, the false assertion that His Excellency President Dr. Irfaan Ali was duplicitous at COP 26 whilst calling for a ban on log exports is presumptuous and reckless at its very least. Firstly, Cop 26 was not about country positions but rather a global call for reduction of emissions. Guyana’s forests, managed by the Guyana Forestry Commission (GFC) under sustainable forest management standards continue to perform an essential service in climate balance through carbon storage and sequestration. For the uninformed, Guyana’s forest stores 19.5 billion tons of carbon dioxide equivalents and sequesters approximately 154M tCO2e annually. For comparison, the entire world emits about 50 billion tons a year. Guyana’s annual deforestation is among the lowest in the world averaging 0.056% per annum. Contrary to the misinformed article, deforestation does not occur in the forest sector based on the guidelines that are strictly enforced.
Guyana practices sustainable forestry management in a very robust and systematic manner. Our practices are recognized internationally as one of the best. This has been confirmed by numerous independent international audits. Guyana can practice selective logging at a maximum allowable conservative rate of 20m3 per hectare over a 60 years cycle (the equivalent of approximately 3 trees per acre or 6 trees per hectare. However, even though the annual allowable sustainable production from the allocated forest is 1.2Mm3; the current actual level of production is 400,000m3. Additionally, about 50 % of the state forest is unallocated.
Guyana has had in place a log export policy since 2006. The rates charged per m3 of logs exported have been continuously adjusted upwards and currently, the rates are among the highest compared with other tropical timber-producing countries. It is of great interest too that log bans have proven to be ineffective in many other countries; if not implemented in conjunction with other measures it will quickly destroy the sector as it can lead to a glut in the market and lowering of prices thus forcing producers out of business.
The Guyanese forestry sector provides employment to approximately 20,000 Guyanese many of who live in the hinterland regions. Our Government does not make impromptu decisions when considering such important factors that impact these 20,000 forest sector workers; multiple national consultations were done with all stakeholders inclusive of the major producer and manufacturing groups before the log export policy was developed.
The statistics will also show that current levels of log exports are below 20% of actual production. Thus, over 80% of logs produce are available for local sales, for processing and use into the domestic economy, for export as finished and value-added production. This 80 % is more than adequate given the current processing capacity in-country.
The Government also has various protection measures for the local processing and value-added industry; for example, the tariff on imported pine and plywood was increased a few years ago to the maximum level of 40% and 45% respectively from the previous levels of 5%. This alone is a direct benefit and protection mechanism for the domestic manufactures and value-added, processing operators.
Finally, the Guyana Forestry Commission welcomes criticism that is constructive and fact-based; it, therefore, calls on Article 13 to seek clarification and present factual data rather than making statements that are erroneous and have no linkage with what was reported by HE Dr. Irfaan Alli at Cop26.
Guyana Forestry Commission
November 17, 2021