The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will soon have offices countrywide. This was disclosed by its Executive Director, Dr Vincent Adams. He made these remarks at the close of EPA workshops that targetted community forest operators (CFOs).
The workshops were aimed at enlightening CFOs of the need to have an Environmental Authorisation before any forest activity. This was done in collaboration with the European Union/ Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade (EU/FLEGT), and Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO).
During the exercise, 12 workshops were held in eight regions except Regions 5 and 8 as these do not have any registered CFOs. Three hundred and nineteen participants represented 48 of 69 registered CFOs.
While the workshops were deemed a success, Dr Adams said that many persons are limited from applying for an environmental authorisation due to Guyana’s geographic setup. To address the issue, he said that the EPA is taking a two-pronged approach to access to the EPA.
“The agency will approach EU and the FAO for the second phase of this project to allow the agency to meet operators and provide similar service offered at the central office in Georgetown for them to become authorised. So, instead of operators coming to the agency, the agency will go to them…for the longer and sustainable term, the agency will continue to aggressively pursue its goal of establishing an office presence in every region of the country by the end of 2020.”
Dr Adams added that due to the workshops “the agency received applications for an environmental permit from five CFOs. A clear indication that this project has resulted in CFOs now willing to apply for environmental authorisation after their capacities were built through this training.”
Minister of State Dawn Hastings-Williams said that Guyana has recognised that its forests must be protected and effectively managed. This, she noted, can only be achieved if everyone is in compliance with the environment authorisation.
According to the minister, economic diversification is critical. She challenged the forest operators to be innovative and creative.
“Guyana can meet the demands of local and international markets with diverse high-quality timber sustainably harvested,” the State Minister underscored.
Minister Hastings-Williams said management of the forest resources is integral to the developmental trajectory. The government, she noted, is committed to the process of sustainable use of forest resources. (Department of Public Information)