“Forests not property of loggers” – GFC

first_img…as loggers raise concerns over stumpage value, poor roadsFollowing a presentation on the revised National Forest Policy Statement and Forest Plan, loggers raised concerns over the proposed introduction of stumpage fees and the poor infrastructure used to access concessions in the forest.One logger called on the Guyana Forestry Commission (GFC) to ensure that better infrastructure is afforded before the introduction of additional fees can be considered. The logger explained that if the new fee is introduced, it would cause loggers to become engaged in illegal practices, since the industry is already suffering.Stumpage is the price paid for the right to harvest timber from a given land base. Historically, the price was determined on a basis of the number of trees harvested, or “per stump”.However, the GFC Commissioner has explained that the GFC had been engaged in consultations for over two years (2015 and 2016), and the decision has been made.“Additionally, the forest laws require new charges to be instituted, but, as usual, the Forestry Commission does it through a very consultative and participatory process. We don’t just wake up one morning and say, ‘We are going to institute stumpage value’,” he said.“We had extensive consultations one after the other in Kwakwani. The initial position of the GFC was to charge $8 per cubic metre per standing tree, and based on the consultation, we have reduced it to $5,” Singh added.He further stated that the GFC is about to restart the consultation process on stumpage value and other issues affecting the users of the forest.“A lot of forest in Guyana has been issued out. Some (may have been) used beneficially and some are not being used beneficially, and that is the reason why stumpage value is a fair charge,” he defended.Stakeholders at the presentation“The forests of Guyana are not the property of loggers; they are the patrimony of Guyana, and monies must be earned from these forest resources to fit into the social programmes of the Government. We have an obligation to ensure that whatever forest we give out, we receive a fair share of the earnings,” Singh noted.Meanwhile, Ricky Ramsaroop, President of the Forest Products Association (FPA), has said he is scheduled at the next meeting to make a presentation about the current stumpage value to the GFC’s Board of Directors, on which he sits.“We (the FPA) have (to) hold a meeting to discuss internally our position on stumpage value that we had before… When I look back at the current stumpage value, there are certain benefits we want to achieve. I think we have to look at that. So if we have to look at stumpage value, then there are certain values we want to derive benefits (from),” he noted.He added that there are provisions in the 2018 Budget for the rehabilitation of the infrastructure, particularly the road network.The revised National Forest Policy Statement and Forest Plan was presented to the stakeholders on Friday. It addresses the issues arising from the economic, ecological, social, and governance standpoints. The principles that guide the policy include balanced decision-making, inter-generational equity, local benefit, and the protection of the natural capital base.The revised policy and plan reflects the moving away from utilizing forests for just wood, and is as a cornerstone of the country’s national patrimony.PhotoGfc1- Gfc2-last_img read more