The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations today applauded Guyana’s pioneering efforts in climate change reform during a two-day workshop held at the Guyana Forestry Commission (GFC) to discuss issues such as giving financial rewards for countries with high forest cover. The workshop was attended by representatives of organizations including Conservation International, the Office of Climate Change, and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Guyana’s visionary efforts have set an example for other countries.
FAO Representative Clause Ecklemann said that countries like Guyana and Suriname, which have an 80 percent land mass, low population density, and about four people per square kilometer, have maintained their forest cover. Cuba was also named as having 30 percent net gain in forest cover in comparison to Barbados and Antigua which have very little forest (less than five percent).
Minister of Agriculture Robert Persaud said that Guyana has taken a proactive role in the climate change fight and has not modeled countries that exploit their natural resources beyond sustainability in order to promote economic development. He explained that Guyana has put in place support policies and legislative frameworks to ensure transparency to state lease and robust systems of checks and balances in log tracking. Guyana has a deforestation rate of less than 0.3 percent despite continued logging over centuries. The minister pointed to the almost 360 hectares of virgin, tropical forest at Iwokrama which he described as Guyana’s gift to the global community for use as a model of forestry conservation and stressed that this is only possible because of deliberate environmental policy measures which safeguard its ecosystem. Guyana has taken other important steps, such as creating a vital linkage of forest carbon monitoring system under the Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD) with a comprehensive, national framework development.
In order for Guyana’s model to work, there must be global recognition through financial support to enable such countries to meet the objectives. Another critical element discussed was the importance of ensuring that all stakeholders are fully involved and consulted, especially the indigenous community which relies heavily on the forests.
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Photo of Minister Persaud from http://www.stabroeknews.com/2009/stories/09/04/guyana-plugs-global-multi-sector-framework-for-climate-services/