Guyana’s president, Bharrat Jagdeo, hit the headlines during COP-16 for his “Show me the money,” speech at a side event organised by Avoided Deforestation Partners. “Although we have fulfilled the condition to receive payment from Norway a year ago,” Jagdeo said, “we have not seen a single cent expended as yet on the projects that are so vital to transformation.”
But while Jagdeo was telling the truth when he said that he was still waiting for any REDD payments, some of his other comments were blatant lies. Such as this one:
“We have decided to protect our entire forest, which is bigger than England,” Jagdeo announced.
In reality, deforestation is increasing in Guyana. A look at the documents posted on the website of Guyana’s Environmental Protection Agency reveals some of the planned projects that are currently threatening to Guyana’s forests:
- Simon & Shock International Logging Inc.: A 391,853 hectare logging operation in the Upper Essequibo-Corentyne-North Rupununi District, southeast of the Iwokrama Protected Area.
The company to execute the project is an Indian based company which has a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Government of Guyana and with the original owners of Simon & Shock International Logging Inc. (SSI) for a total buy-out in which 100% shares belongs to Dark Forest Company (S) Pte Ltd. (DFCPL).
- Sherwood Forest Inc.: A 167,066 hectare logging operation in the in the Upper Essequibo and Berbice area, including a 250 kilometre all weather road. Phase I activities include:
Establishing initially more than 120 km of all weather roads to allow access to the concession area; the all weather roads will incorporate a number of bridges and culverts and the establishment of a number of borrow pits; the construction of the roads will lead to the felling of trees along the planned road alignment
- ETK Gold and Copper Mine Project: ETK Inc. has a series of Prospecting Licenses, Mining Permits and Prospecting Permits near the upper reaches of the Puruni River, covering a total area of 98,213 hectares.
The development and operation of the mine will involve construction and operation of the mine site itself, upgrade of an existing access road and other facilities currently at the site, construction of a barge and ship loading facility and construction of an off-site concentrate treatment facility. Power for the operation will be provided by fossil fuel-fired generators with transmission lines being used to distribute power to the entire mine site. Green energy sources such as solar panels will be considered for utilization at monitoring and communications equipment locations
- Chaitram, Parasram Timber Inc. (CPT Inc.): A 26,259 hectare logging operation. Barama Company Limited previously logged 60% of the concession, which “lies within the southeastern portion of the forestry belt of Central Guyana on the left bank of Cuyuni River, right bank of Pomeroon River and left bank of Pairawa River”.
Conflicts may arise as a result of competing land uses, in particular, from economically viable resources such as minerals and forest. The area allocated to CPT Inc. for forest utilization has at the same time been identified and allocated for mineral extraction by the Guyana Geolgy and Mines Commission (GGMC). In light of national development regarding Guyana’s interest to market its forest carbon stocks, and its preparation for Reduce Emissions from Deforestation and [Forest] Degradation (REDD) Readiness, there is need for the sectors to collaborate. A mechanism is currently being worked out at the national level between the GGMC and the GFC and to be implemented by both forest and mining operators through the sharing of the harvest/mine plan. It is expected that the areas will be mined/logged in blocks where the forest concessionaire has the opportunity to harvest all valuable logs before mining of the subsurface can occurs.
- Guyana Industrial Minerals Inc. (GINMIN): The Bonasika bauxite mine and sand hills sintered bauxite production plant and supporting infrastructure, on the east bank of the Essequibo River about eight miles north of Bartica. GINMIN is a wholly owned subsidiary of Canada-based company First Bauxite Company.
The Project intends to mine 300,000 tonnes per year of bauxite and install a plant to sinter the bauxite to produce 100,000 tonnes per year of refractory grade sintered bauxite.
- Romanex Guyana International Inc: The Marudi Mountain Alluvial Mining operation – an alluvial gold mining project to be mined by “open pit methods in the flats of Capodilla and Toucan Creeks, July Creek, Locust Creek, Peace Creek, Paunch Creek and Rice Creek” in Administrative Region 9.
The Marudi Mountain Concession lies within the Mixed Montane Forest biogeographical realms. Patches of swamp forest can be found along the flood plains of the major rivers. The area is very rich biotically because of the many interfaces between major ecosystems and because the area was a pleistocene refuge area… The project will entail progressive reclamation of areas cleared for mining. The project impacts on forest resources will consequently be carbon neutral.
- Amaila Falls Hydro, Inc.: The Amaila Falls Hydropower Project is a 140 MW dam on the Potaro River in western Guyana. It includes a 110 kilometre access road through Guyana’s rainforest.
The Amaila Project consists of the hydropower project, a high voltage electric transmission interconnection, and upgraded and new access roads to the hydropower site.
Norway’s prime minister, Jens Stoltenberg, responded to Jagdeo’s outburst in Cancun by pointing out that “Results is what we’re looking for.” Looking at the projects proposed for Guyana’s forests, these are perhaps not the kind of “results” he was thinking of.