As the Guyana-European Union Voluntary Partnership Agreement (VPA) process moves forward, there are a number of consultation sessions which are being held with stakeholders across the country. Today’s article features the session conducted with Rockstone Loggers Association within the Amerindian Community of Rocktone.
The session witnessed the participation of members of the Association directly involved in logging practices, and even members of the community with an interest in learning more about forestry in Guyana. Interestingly, a number of youths (both male and female) and senior citizens were also present. Many persons benefitted from the day’s session, which focused on presenting a detailed overview of what is Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade (FLEGT), updating participants on key activities that have taken place since formal negotiations with the EU in 2012, and discussing three key elements of the VPA: Annex II: Guyana Legality Definition, Annex V: Guyana Timber Legality Assurance System and Annex VIII: Supporting Measures and Financing Mechanism. Information packages containing all printed VPA Annexes and information booklets on FLEGT and the Guyana Timber Legality Assurance System (GTLAS) were prepared for each participant. NIS information booklets and an audio recording of a VPA Radio session were also included.
A number of salient points were raised during the meeting. For instance, stakeholders expressed the need for regular workshops with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Guyana Forestry Commission (GFC) to discuss the aspects of environmental management and fines associated with breaching key environmental guidelines. Moreover, participants recognized the importance and quality of GPS and Timber grading training provided by the Forestry Training Centre Inc., and made requests for additional sessions to be held within the community. Interestingly, each participant welcomed the opportunity to improve on its NIS and GRA compliance and also made requests for more workshops with representatives from both agencies. The National Insurance Board, NIB representative Ms. Cheryl Tappin, who accompanied the FLEGT team was very instrumental throughout the meeting. Members of the Association were able to commence the process of registering with NIS, and pledged their commitment to maintaining close communication with NIB in this regard.
In keeping with the schedule for National Consultations, the team will be proceeding to the Amerindian Village of Greatfalls and then to Region 9 to conduct similar sessions.