Guyana’s neighbour to the South and Southwest, Brazil, has found itself in the centre of an environmental catastrophe since more than 1000 sections of its Amazon are engulfed by raging flames. In fact, world leaders are now meeting to discuss solutions to this disaster which has already affected the forests of Bolivia, Paraguay and Peru.

Like the rest of the world, Guyana’s leaders have already expressed concern about what is taking place in its neighbour’s backyard while noting that the state of affairs do provide scope for reflection.

In this regard, former Minister of Natural Resources and the Environment, Robert Persaud has said that Guyana must be proud of its track record in monitoring its rainforests. According to Persaud, the efforts of the Forestry Commission in this regard is what ultimately resulted in the country avoiding the ravages of the Amazon fires.

Expounding on this front, Persaud reminded that the Guyana-Norway forest partnership agreement of November 2009 is crucial to the efforts of the Commission.

Since that agreement, Persaud explained that forest fires have had minimal impact on Guyana’s forest with a low 680 hectares as reported by the Ministry of Natural Resources for 2018. 

Persaud said, “…I was happy to read Minister (of Natural Resources Raphael) Trotman reporting that Guyana’s deforestation rate for year 2018 is 0.052 percent…This work is led by the competent staff of the Guyana Forestry Commission.  The GFC’s work in monitoring forest cover of which forest fires is a part of has prepared Guyana to plan for mitigation measures and to continuously monitor forest fires.  Capacity has been built over the years by the GFC working with community partners who live around fire-prone and dry areas.”

Furthermore, Persaud reminded that when he was Minister with responsibility for the forestry sector (2006-2015), the approach has always been to empower community actors, particularly indigenous communities to take leadership roles in protecting the forest around them.  He stressed that this has worked well and Guyana has been a success story in showing prevailed low rates of forest fires at a time when sister countries in South America, mainly Brazil , are experiencing the great misfortune of massive occurrences of forest fires that are destroying large areas of the Amazonian forest. 

Persaud noted that Guyanese must be proud of its success as a country and refrain from destroying what is working at the expense of political expediency.

He concluded, “The stewardship of our forest is a collective achievement and we need not fix what’s not broken via the recent ill-advised attempts to restructure the GFC.  Let’s make Guyana proud for many more things as a people, while remaining alert and steadfast.”


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