in Guyana

Does Guyana’s Low Carbon Development Strategy stand up?

On Monday, 8 June 2009, Guyana’s President Bharrat Jagdeo launched a “Low Carbon Development Strategy” (LCDS) for the country. Among the foreign dignitaries at the launch was Hans Brattskar, Director of Norway’s International Climate and Forest Initiative. Jagdeo hopes that Norway is going to bankroll his plans.

Media coverage in Guyana was positive. The government-owned Guyana Chronicle, for example, gushed that Jagdeo “set the stage in a 55-minute address at the International Conference Center in Liliendaal, East Coast Demerara, drawing praise immediately across the board from different stakeholders.”

Of course it is not clear whether anyone with critical opinions was invited to the launch, or whether journalists made any effort to seek out critical views. Nevertheless there are several areas for concern with Jagdeo’s plans. REDD-Monitor presents the following concerns to the governments and citizens of Guyana and Norway:

  • President Jagdeo has drawn up the Low Carbon Development Strategy without the benefit of a discussion within the country first. The Office of Climate Change will be close to his centre of power – within his own office, in fact. How can Guyanese citizens ensure that the President will be transparent and equitable in the implementation of the climate plans?
  • A “REDD Secretariat” has been established within the Guyana Forestry Commission, funded by Conservation International. Two NGOs are represented on the country’s REDD Advisory Committee: Conservation International and the World Wildlife Fund. Conservation International is heavily in favour of carbon trading and is one of the US-based NGOs that recently signed on to a controversial deal with polluting industry. The establishment and control of the REDD Secretariat appears to bypass any democratic process in Guyana.
  • In any case, there has so far been little meaningful debate in Guyana about REDD and its implications. Whilst a three-month “national consultation” is planned this is likely to be limited to the government’s Low Carbon Development Strategy. How can the principle of free, prior and informed consent be applied when the plans are drawn up before consultation takes place? Neither does it seem likely that indigenous peoples’ rights will play a key role in the consultations. The Kaieteur News interviewed Cabinet Secretary Roger Luncheon and reported that “Amerindian communities in Guyana, which own 14 percent of the country’s land, will not benefit from any ‘special’ treatment in the consultations that will lead to the adoption of the government’s Low Carbon Development Strategy.”
  • Jagdeo’s Low Carbon Development Strategy relies heavily on what one local expert has described as the “fantastical” document prepared in 2008 by McKinsey Consultants and issued by the President in December. The report estimated how much Guyana’s forests are worth standing, by attempting to guess how much they might be worth in theory if they were all cut down and the land put to some other use. Questions remain about the reliability of McKinsey’s calculations; in particular their spurious claims about the potential for Guyana’s forest lands to be converted to valuable agriculture, should REDD funding fail to materialise.
  • Among the projects listed in the Low Carbon Development Strategy is the Amaila Falls hydropower dam on the Kuribrong River. This scheme has been planned since the late 1990s. Jagdeo has publicly committed to building the dam before he leaves office. But without an independent Procurement Board to oversee and scrutinise government procurement procedures for externally-funded construction contracts, REDD funders run the risk that their financing could end up in the pockets of the government’s business cronies.
  • “It is easy to caricature deforestation as capricious Third World governments colluding with corrupt logging companies,” Jagdeo said in his speech at the launch of the Low Carbon Development Strategy. “And undoubtedly, this is sometimes the reality,” he added. He could have talked about Guyana, where the reality is that the country’s forests are being torn apart by Asian loggers. Whilst the Low Carbon Development Strategy promises new wealth based on non-polluting activities, more than ninety percent of the country’s existing logging concessions are held by foreign companies under secretive but highly concessionary contracts, and their operations are spewing carbon dioxide into the atmosphere as they systematically degrade the country’s forests. Jagdeo’s plan is that these loggers will stay; the Low Carbon Development Strategy states that the government “will not stop existing economic activities or threaten the employment of those already working in the forest”.
  • In order to counter the obvious contradictions in this, the government suggests that a “national certification scheme” will be introduced, with the aim of making all forestry operations Forest Stewardship Council compliant in due course. Local experts say they’ve heard it all before, and point out that even a previous scheme to verify forest sector legality was never implemented properly, allowing fraud to continue. Guyana’s first certified logging operation, Barama, lost its FSC certification in 2007 when it was found to be consistently in breach of the FSC’s standards. It shows no sign of being reinstated. As one observer has concluded “Guyana will continue on its present trajectory of secret Foreign Direct Investment contracts with a few foreign loggers.”
  • This presents the Norwegian government with something of a problem. In his speech, Jagdeo said, “I am very pleased that Norway and Guyana are now working very closely to determine how to generate performance-based compensation for forest climate services which will support the implementation of our Low Carbon Development Strategy.” But deforestation in Guyana is currently zero, making further reductions impossible. The one “performance” that the government could undertake in order to reduce emissions from the forest sector – i.e. to stop or reduce commercial logging – is precisely what Guyana says it has no intention of doing. So exactly what “performance” is to be measured is not clear. Perhaps the government intends to stop the traditional rotational swidden farming practised by the nation’s indigenous Amerindian communities, which takes place on a cyclical basis over a few tens of thousands of hectares per year.
  • Guyana’s early ventures in REDD-type projects have been shrouded in secrecy. The terms of the lease issued by the President to the London-based Canopy Capital for the ecosystem services of the Iwokrama rainforest project in south-western Guyana have never been revealed. The government’s new Memorandum of Understanding with Norway emphasises the need for “transparency”, but have even Norway’s negotiators have been able to prize the Iwokrama project contract out of the Presidency?

Presidential Advisor Kevin Hogan helped produce Guyana’s National Competitiveness Strategy in 2005 and 2006. Hogan was in Poznan when Bharrat Jagdeo introduced the McKinsey report. He was in London for the G20 forests meeting, organised by Prince Charles. Wherever Jagdeo goes, it seems, Hogan is sure to follow. Hogan has argued that “the time for projects is over” and that it is time to move quickly towards full market trading of forest carbon. But he also revealed an uncomfortable truth: that REDD projects “are very valuable for many reasons, but the danger in them is that you can create an oasis of good practice within a desert of bad practice.”

Before pouring in millions of dollars, Guyana’s donors should beware that the country is not heading fast into the desert.

PHOTO Credit: Office of the President.

Leave a Reply

  1. Response to Article on REDD-Monitor Website Dated: 12th June, 2009.

    “Does Guyana’s Low Carbon Development Strategy Stand up?’

    The recently published article on the REDD-Monitor Website is consistent with its previous articles on REDD and climate change in Guyana in terms of an overall poor understanding of basic facts and a general confusion of technical details of climate change initiatives and natural resources management in Guyana. Many of the points made are typical of REDD Monitor armchair type criticism that is evident in articles focused on Guyana. There are so many half truths and manipulations of facts, that readers are given the impression that the forests in Guyana will be disappearing tomorrow. Accusations and assertions are wildly and carelessly used by REDD Monitor displaying an embarrassing ignorance of forest management in Guyana, and even to a purely uninformed position on the consultation process and the overall thrust of Guyana’s Low Carbon Development Strategy.

    For the purposes of enlightening REDD Monitor which seem fixated on showering unwarranted criticism on Guyana instead of embracing development, here are a few fact to ponder on which, hopefully, will transform REDD Monitor’s current poor grasp of the subject matter to one that is more in line with Guyana’s new and visionary thinking.

    Guyana’s Low Carbon Development Strategy (LCDS), which was launched on 8th June, 2009, is focused on two main ideas: transforming Guyana’s economy and combating climate change. It is unclear as to which one REDD Monitor really disagrees with since if it is the former then the interest of Guyanese and its people’s livelihoods are seen as unimportant to REDD Monitor, and if it is the latter then, then it is quite obvious that the REDD Monitor has been detached from Guyana’s reality over the past five years.

    The article first asserts that there was a high profile Norwegian delegation in Guyana for the launching. This is incorrect, since no member of a Norwegian delegation was present at this opening launch. REDD Monitor contends that the President of Guyana hopes that Norway will “bankroll” his plans. The confusion starts in this very first paragraph of the letter whereby REDD Monitor clearly does not understand the concept of the Low Carbon Development Strategy and the benefits that Guyana’s well managed forest resources can provide to the nation and to the world, whilst at the same time, creating benefits for local communities and for national development.

    The Launch was well attended by over 500 persons representing all segments of civil society, religious groups, organized labour, economic sector, media, Government and other groups. These groups engaged in a process of open discussion and sharing of critical insights on the Strategy. It is reckless for REDD Monitor to denigrate the participants of the Launch and initial consultation and conclude that critical views were not presented and sought out.

    Like the initial comments by REDD-Monitor, the itemized concerns were similarly weak and often somewhat desperate in its effort to criticize:

    • The LCDS is a draft document that presents an idea of building livelihoods and fostering development in Guyana whilst addressing the challenges that climate change presents. It proposes to do this by inherently recognizing that Guyana’s largely intact forest offers a service to the nation and the world. The document is in draft for the purposes of stimulating discussion and soliciting comments, inputs, concerns and suggestions on all aspects of the strategy. Equity and transparency have been the hallmark of the current Government and this has also been the case in this initiative through the thorough three month consultation process, thus providing for the free, prior and informed consent of Amerindian communities before any inclusion of privately held lands into the LCDS framework and through a number of other avenues. REDD Monitor’s point in this case, does not stand up to reason.

    • The establishment of the REDD Secretariat is financed by the Government of Guyana and has received some support from the World Wildlife Fund and Conservation International Guyana, for the execution of specific project activities in relation to work on a forest carbon stock assessment for Guyana. This is no secret and was made public by the Government at the signing of the project agreements with these Organizations. Neither these Donors, nor any other Organization/Group is in control of the activities of the REDD Secretariat, as the work is executed in a transparent manner. It is unclear how REDD Monitor reaches the far fetched conclusion of a democratic process being bypassed as there is clearly no basis for such an ill conceived statement. The support that the REDD Secretariat has received instead represents a collaborative approach taken from the very outset, to address initial REDD readiness activities. REDD Monitor obviously prefers an approach that is non-inclusive. How REDD Monitor’s approach supports the democratic process is baffling.

    • The Low Carbon Development Strategy is a comprehensive document which covers important implications of engaging in such an initiative. It was well established at the launching, that a detailed discussion on all relevant aspects of the LCDS will be done in the three month consultation process. The very fact that Amerindian titled lands are not included at the outset until free, prior and informed consent is reached by Amerindians to do so, is testimony to the transparency and fairness of the process. Over 130 Amerindian communities and satellite communities have been targeted under the consultation process and represents the importance of the participation of this group. The inclusion of Amerindians is similarly mirrored by the inclusion of all other stakeholders, ethnic groups, genders, religious groups that are part of this national process. The statement made by the Cabinet Secretary, despite attempts by REDD monitor to thwart its true context and intention, endorses this position of the Government.

    • A more careful examination of the LCDS would have clarified REDD Monitor’s apparent confusion between the McKinsey Study on Avoided Deforestation and the Strategy itself. The assumptions taken were along a rational path of development that is not only feasible but realistic in the context of the Guyana’s resource potential. The amount derived as the economic value, is an estimation and takes account of changing economic variables and conditions. REDD Monitor attempts to create an impression that the values determined by this study are random amounts that are not substantiated by actual or future realistic scenarios in Guyana. As one example, REDD Monitor misinterprets the model and concludes that the assumption taken is that all trees will be cut down. This assumption is way off base as a deforestation rate of 4% is assumed in the model. The same can be said for land utilization for agriculture, where soil suitability was a major factor in agriculture land use valuation.

    • The National Procurement and Tender Board is responsible for awarding national building contracts. Assertions that projects such as the building of the Hydro Power Plant cannot be realized without an independent procurement board are therefore a non issue. The allegations by REDD Monitor that the absence of an independent Board will lead to corruption is seen as a desperate attempt to spark fear in the minds of forward thinking individuals and Governments.

    • REDD Monitor’s understanding of forest management in Guyana is poor. Forest management in the large concessions to which REDD Monitor refers, are regulated on a management system that uses a selective cutting cycle based on a 25-60 year rotation principle and a sustainable annual allowable cut. REDD Monitor is clueless as to these mechanisms and peddles accusations of secretive and highly concessionary contracts being issued and systematic degradation ongoing in the forest. This is simply not the case, given that the annual rate of cut rarely exceeds 12m3 per hectare on a 60 year cycle, a far lower rate than the maximum allowable cut of 20m3 per hectare. The LCDS is therefore very compatible with the current forest management mechanisms and it is this premise that makes Guyana well positioned to take advantage of and benefit from the proposed strategy in a realistic and feasible manner.

    • REDD Monitor contends that forest legality was never properly implemented in Guyana and that because of this, fraud continues. REDD monitor needs to be educated on the facts: Guyana is one of few counties that has successfully implemented a national log tracking system that provides verification of legality of origin. This system has been recognized internationally as effective and other countries are using Guyana as a successful example. This system is being continuously enhanced to allow for improvements. The occurrence of fraud therefore is prevented by this system working along with the strong documentation procedures in place. REDD Monitor can continue to delude itself that fraud continues for the sake of international sensationalism but the evidence speaks for itself. This can be verified by the numerous international assessments that have been done on Sustainable Forest Management (SFM) practices in Guyana. REDD Monitor seems preoccupied on FDI contracts and is challenged to show the proof. The obvious vendetta and hidden agenda became evident in this point and reveals the real problem that this group has with the Strategy. REDD Monitor is of the view that foreign investments need to be alienated and efforts need to be put in place to rip livelihoods from poor communities. The aspect of the LCDS that speaks to forest certification is consistent with all other aspects of the Strategy, in proposing a forward thinking approach to ensure that forests are utilized in the most effective manner. The consultation process on the draft LCDS will allow for comments to be brought out by forest producers in Guyana as to whether this can work or not, if not why and what other options may be considered.

    • REDD Monitor continues with incorrect and unfounded assumptions on the President’s outline of performance based payments. Exposure to international dialogue on REDD and REDD Plus would have educated REDD Monitor that they are a step behind in this. Guyana’s position has been and continues to be an agenda of REDD, now evolved into REDD Plus and includes sustainable forest management and as provided for in the Bali Action Plan. Reducing deforestation is certainly not the main mechanism through which Guyana intends to peg its performance based payments. Rather maintaining deforestation will allow for the benefits which Guyana’s forest currently provide and will continue to provide, to the national and international community. REDD Monitor’s attempt to instill fear into the minds of indigenous peoples in Guyana, is shameless as the LCDS charts a development path for Guyana that does not compromise but is actually advantageous to improving the livelihoods of Amerindians.

    • The LCDS is a national strategy and does not attempt to provide project type and location specific benefits for single areas only. This basic premise separates the LCDS from the scheme alluded to by REDD Monitor that Iwokrama is engaged in. The outlined consultation process, the involvement of Amerindian NGOs, and other groups in this process testifies to the transparency of the LCDS process.

    REDD Monitor’s fear of the REDD Project, stating that it may create an oasis of good practice in a desert of bad practice, illustrates an infantile understanding of REDD itself – a concept which has certainly evolved and has broadened in scope as outlined in the Bali Action Plan. REDD now includes sustainable forest management, maintenance of forest carbon stock and other areas. Evolving REDD Plus concepts are also now integrally debated at the international negotiation level that may directly provide for cases such as Guyana’s. REDD Monitor needs to take some time off its anti-development agenda and make itself aware of what is actually happening globally. In this respect, Guyana recommends that you seek clarification on issues before publishing articles that are filled with incorrect and deliberate misinformation, speculation and inconsistencies.

  2. Thanks for this comment. Could you please confirm that you are Jacy Archibald, the Corporate Secretary of the Guyana Forestry Commission?

    REDD-Monitor welcomes the opportunity for an open debate. I would suggest that this debate should be posted on the LCDS website, in the interests of encouraging further discussion.

    I have the following clarifications and comments to make on your response (I’ve extracted parts of your response – in italics – followed by my comments):

    Readers are given the impression that the forests in Guyana will be disappearing tomorrow: As REDD-Monitor has pointed out in a previous post, “Guyana has large areas of forest and low levels of deforestation.” It was Guyana’s President, Bharrat Jagdeo, who raised the issue of “avoided threatened deforestation” in the hope of qualifying for REDD.

    The Norwegian delegation was not present at the launch: I assumed he was, because of an article in the Guyana Chronicle titled “Guyana launches ambitious, historic climate change strategy”, which states that “Ambassador Hans Brattskar, Director of Norway’s International Climate and Forest Initiative and three other team members flew here last week to advance the Norwegian aid programme for Guyana’s deforestation model.” It seems strange that they would leave just before the launch, but it appears that they did.

    Guyana hopes that Norway will “bankroll” the plans: On the day of the launch (8 June 2009), the Guyana Chronicle announced that “The plan [the LDCS] says the government expects interim payments from its partnership with Norway and other sources will help reduce deforestation . . . The Norwegian government has an annual programme of about half-a-billion US dollars to help developing countries preserve standing forests and avoid forest degradation and talks are continuing on how much of this will flow to Guyana.”

    The launch was well attended by over 500 persons, who engaged in a process of open discussion and sharing of critical insights: In the official account of the launch (which was available on the LCDS website, but now appears to have been taken down) only 309 names are listed. Of these 151 were from government agencies. There were no representatives from the two largest Amerindian organisations. Conservation International was present, but WWF Guianas was not.

    There may well have been an “open discussion” about the LCDS, but that’s not how the newspapers reported the event. The point is that no critical views were reported.

    The LCDS is a draft document that presents an idea of building livelihoods and fostering development in Guyana: The “thorough three month consultation process” that you mention will take place after the launch of the LCDS, thus stretching the meaning of the word “prior” (as in free, prior and informed consent) to breaking point. The comments published by at least some Amerindians show that they have not been given enough information to give informed consent. And some of them have challenged the reports of meetings issued by the government information service.

    The LCDS document was not drafted from the bottom up by “stakeholders”. Instead, it is a version of the McKinsey consultancy report dated December 2008, which used non-public data to develop a fantastical scenario: Guyana would clear up to 15.8 million hectares of forest over 25 years, using destructive logging, plus mining (which also involves deforestation). The forest would be replaced by commercial agricultural crops. But as there have been almost no attempts to clear and crop the forest land in the last 400 years, it would be reasonable to suppose that the naturally infertile soils of hinterland Guyana would not support commercial or continuous sedentary agriculture. This historical lack of cropping is not even discussed in the McKinsey report, nor in the LCDS. Hence the Economic Value to the Nation, derived from McKinsey’s estimates mainly of potential crop value, is indeed “fantastical”. It is notable that the National Agricultural Research Institute has not offered a public comment on the LCDS; and is not a member of the multistakeholder steering committee.

    Guyana’s largely intact forest offers a service to the nation and the world: The government’s own documents – FCPF R-PLAN and LCDS – use such a variety of figures for forest area that the statement that the forests as “largely intact” is difficult to prove. Estimates of the total area of forest in Guyana vary from 18.5 to 16.0 million hectares in R-PLAN and LCDS.

    Of this area (however big it is), almost 6.6 million hectares is allocated as logging concessions. Here are the figures for forest area published by the Guyana Forest Commission in its Forest Sector Information Report for the year 2008:

    The Guyana Forestry Commission continues to increase the number and area of two-year unsustainable logging concessions (State Forest Permissions, 358 covering a total of 1,148,046 hectares, plus 21 covering a total of 497,846 hectares due for conversion to sustainable management);
    Four medium-term concessions covering a total of 70,889 hectares;
    25 long-term concessions covering a total of 4,237,570 hectares (but some are allowed to operate only as one-year licences rather than the 15-25 years specified in national policy); and three pre-harvest exploratory concessions covering a total of 606,233 hectares.
    This gives a total logging allocation of 6,560,584 hectares.

    In addition, 1.5 million hectares is in research or conservation. Of the 13.7 million hectares of state forest, 5.6 million hectares (41 per cent) is unallocated. Then there is an estimated area of 1.7 million hectares in titled Amerindian Village Lands.

    This gives us a grand total of 15.4 million hectares, leaving somewhere between 0.6 and 3.1 million hectares of unaccounted forest.

    The establishment of the REDD Secretariat: The REDD Secretariat is located inside the Guyana Forestry Commission (GFC). Yet there is no reference to REDD or to the FCPF R-PLANs on the GFC website. There is no reference to the REDD Secretariat in the LCDS. Access to the Guyana R-PLAN documents is only via the World Bank’s FCPF website. Can this really be described as “transparent”? The Technical Advisory Panel of the FCPF made critical comments in its report of 8 June 2009, noting that “Many sectors of society do not seem to have been included in the process . . . There is the risk of a distinct lack of ‘ownership’ by a larger segment of Guyana’s society”.

    Amerindian titled lands are not included at the outset until free, prior and informed consent is reached by Amerindians to do so: Titled Amerindian Village Lands are not subject to State control of the above-ground resources. The above-ground carbon belongs to the titled Amerindian communities. They could negotiate their own carbon trade arrangements. There are about 1.7 million hectares of forest in titled Amerindian Village Lands. About 97 villages have title, about 42 villages do not; about 31 of these 42 should have been titled according to the legal requirement of the 1966 independence agreement of Guyana from the UK as colonial power. The Government of Guyana refuses to provide a schedule for completion of this obligatory titling.

    The statement made by the Cabinet Secretary . . . endorses this position of the Government: On 9 July 2009, the government presented a motion to the National Assembly, “welcoming the commitment to public consultations, including parliamentary parties, to contribute to the finalisation of the draft Low Carbon Development Strategy (LCDS)”, as reported in the Guyana Chronicle on 11 July 2009. But the tabling of a single motion on the LCDS in the National Assembly can hardly be said to be a satisfactory inclusion of parliament in the LCDS project, which is so close to the President’s ambitions.

    REDD Monitor’s apparent confusion between the McKinsey Study on Avoided Deforestation and the Strategy itself: REDD-Monitor’s statement that the Low Carbon Development Strategy “relies heavily” on the McKinsey report implies no confusion between the two. Clearly, they are two separate reports but the LCDS is based on the analysis in the McKinsey report.

    A deforestation rate of 4% is assumed in the model: Page 14 of the December 2008 McKinsey report states that “In Guyana, we chart an ‘economically rational’ deforestation path that involves reducing forest cover by approximately 4.3 percent (~630,000 ha) per annum over the course of 25 years, leaving intact as protected areas the 10 percent of Guyana’s forests with the highest conservation value.” Put another way, if 630,000 hectares are deforested each year, after 25 years a total of 15.8 million hectares (25 x 630,000) will have been deforested.

    Page 26 of the McKinsey report identifies a total of 3 million hectares of available agricultural land (although the sources for these figures are not in the public domain). On page 29, McKinsey identifies 2.7 million hectares of forested land for mining – which would also involve deforestation. Neither the LCDS, nor the McKinsey report explain why Guyana would deforest 15.8 million hectares if subsequent agriculture could use only 3 million hectares.

    Allegations by REDD Monitor that the absence of an independent Board will lead to corruption: There is considerable debate in the daily newspapers in Guyana about the continued failure to appoint an independent procurement board, given the many criticisms of government procurement procedures and practices by the Auditor General in his annual reports, and the implications of embedded corruption; see Press reports provided without comment on

    Incidentally, Transparency International rates Guyana as 126th in its 2008 corruption perceptions index. Only three countries in Latin America are ranked below Guyana (Paraguay, Ecuador and Venezuela).

    Forest management in Guyana: Archibald gives a description of what is supposed to happen in Guyana’s forests. He does not challenge the fact that more than ninety per cent of the country’s logging concessions are held by foreign companies. Or that these are held under secretive, highly concessionary contracts. The best way to counter this argument would be to release the contracts into the public domain.

    The Guyana Forestry Commission (GFC) does not have the strategic allocation plan called for in the National Forest Policy 1997 and repeated in the National Forest Plan 2001. Concession rights are not publicly auctioned nor is due diligence carried out as required by law and GFC procedures. The GFC does not follow its own Code of Conduct for Timber Harvesting, does not allocate annual allowable cuts by species or species groups and does not check in the field to prevent the consequent systemic over-harvesting of the commercially preferred timbers. The GFC acknowledges in the R-PLAN that such over-cutting occurs: “Deforestation is driven by four principal factors, namely: 1) the targeted harvesting of a limited number of prime commercial species, with little emphasis being placed by the loggers on efficiencies or harvesting of a broader range of species. . . .” (page 3). The LCDS notes that 60-70 m3/ha can be obtained by destructive logging of the timbers which occur naturally in clumps; and for which the Code of Practice prescribes a minimum distance rule (distance between trees to be felled) precisely to prevent such over-cutting. As the Code is not binding (another government failure), this rule is not enforced by the GFC. An average outturn of ~12 m3/ha over a 100-hectare logging block can clearly allow for extreme over-cutting in some areas (the clumps) and no logging in other parts of the unsupervised blocks. And this is what happens; confirmed by GFC studies in 1999-2000.

    The LCDS is therefore very compatible with the current forest management: In the sense that the LCDS is based on a notion of forest value derived from deforestation, yes, it is unfortunately compatible with the currently uncontrolled (or at best poorly controlled) logging.

    Guyana is one of few counties that has successfully implemented a national log tracking system . . . recognized internationally as effective: This is simply untrue. The log tracking system as devised in 1999 by SGS was not fully implemented, partly because the GFC lacks sufficient capability in information technology and partly because of the reluctance to operate a transparent and equitable system, fair to all loggers. GFC staff have traded log tags for private gain, and major loggers have used the tags out-of-coupe because the system is meaningless to them. For more details on the problems, see “Timber tags: the currency of illegal logging and forest corruption in Guiana Shield countries“.

    The GFC is using external funds to improve the system, but the reluctance to be transparent means that the proposed system will not match the expectations of a legality verification systems in the voluntary partnerships under the European Union’s FLEGT Action Plan. The GFC intention can be compared with the more acceptable timber tracking system now being installed in Liberia in West Africa (although there seem to be serious problems in the bid evaluation process for logging concessions in Liberia).

    Numerous international assessments that have been done on Sustainable Forest Management: “Numerous” appears to be something of an exaggeration. SGS Qualifor suspended the FSC certificate for Barama in January 2007. SmartWood has not returned to Barama after a scoping visit in March 2008. Iwokrama is the only current holder in Guyana of a FSC forest management certificate. No other international certification scheme has certificated operations in Guyana. The ITTO global desk-based survey of forest management in 2005 noted the discrepancy between theory and practice in Guyana.

    REDD Monitor seems preoccupied on FDI contracts and is challenged to show the proof: It would perhaps be more accurate to state that the Government of Guyana seems preoccupied with FDI contracts, given the predominance of FDI contracts in the logging sector in the country. The problem is not that FDI is necessarily a bad idea, but that the Government of Guyana has failed to negotiate and re-negotiate such arrangements for the maximum net social benefit.

    Perhaps the most egregious example is that of Barama. The FDI arrangement for the Malaysian logger Barama was written by Malaysians, not by the Government of Guyana. The tax concessions have been repeatedly abused, in that capital investment has been low and slow, in spite of Ministerial remonstrances since 2006; replacement of foreign staff by Guyanese has not happened, indeed the opposite has occurred, with office staff being Malaysian rather than local; duty-free fuel has been used outside Barama’s own concession, in illegally rented concessions and in Amerindian lands under illegal contracts. Barama’s production of utility grade plywood in 2008 was 21,000 m3 in 2008, less than 1/5 of the mill capacity, yet Barama continues to draw maximum tax concessions. And its accounting practices have been sharply criticised. All those points are in the public domain.

    Further information about logging companies in Guyana is available here.

    For the record, nowhere does REDD-Monitor state that “foreign investments need to be alienated and efforts need to be put in place to rip livelihoods from poor communities,” as Archibald suggests.

    REDD and REDD plus: Archibald writes that “Reducing deforestation is certainly not the main mechanism through which Guyana intends to peg its performance based payments. Rather maintaining deforestation will allow for the benefits which Guyana’s forest currently provide and will continue to provide, to the national and international community.” So that’s clear then. The government of Guyana has no intention of reducing deforestation. I’m glad we’ve clarified that.

    REDD Monitor’s attempt to instill fear into the minds of indigenous peoples: In June 2009, Indigenous Groups in Guyana produced a statement calling on the government to respect indigenous rights in the development and implementation of national climate change strategies. The statement (which is available on the LCDS website) includes the following: “Our rotational farming must not be classified as ‘deforestation’ nor ‘degradation’ and this sustainable traditional land use practice must be fully safeguarded in any national LCDS/REDD program”. Clearly, Indigenous Peoples in Guyana are genuinely concerned about these issues. The Government of Guyana should respect that fact and respect the rights of Indigenous Peoples.

    The LCDS is a national strategy: Agreed. However, Archibald declines to respond to the question REDD-Monitor raised. Guyana already has a REDD-type project: the Iwokrama rainforest project. Have the terms of the lease issued by President Jagdeo to Canopy Capital been revealed?

    Guyana recommends that you seek clarification on issues before publishing articles: Archibald does not make clear from whom REDD-Monitor should seek such clarification. When the government itself cannot respond accurately on its own REDD proposals, to whom should REDD-Monitor appeal for clarification?

  3. we found this site by accident a few minutes ago and will highlight some of the comments and info on our site
    Low Carbon Development Strategy is a big scam that the Guyana govt is trying to pull off on Guyanese and the rest of the world
    how do we know? we live and suffer under their mis.leadership and scams on a daily basis
    like you mentioned
    you hit the nail right on the head when you said ‘President Jagdeo has drawn up the Low Carbon Development Strategy without the benefit of a discussion within the country first’
    most Guyanese first heard of Low Carbon when the notices went out that there will be a launch
    the ‘consultations’ going on now are heavily geared to brow-beat the Amerindian communities into accepting it which will then be used to trick the international community that the indigenous protectors of the forest are all for this strategy
    all you have to do is look at the ads of innocent Amerindians words being used and twisted in the newspaper ads showing that they support the low carbon development strategy
    that’s about all for now. we will be checking back and keeping you posted on the great low carbon scam

  4. I have some advice for redd moniter.
    First of which is that you should never trust blogs as some may provide accurate information some are just erroneous in their reporting as well as biased.
    You’ve provided many reports by organizations like Transparency international but we don’t accept these reports as written in stone facts as they are partial to developing countries, these organizations see us as third world countries and rates us as third world countries. Transparency international use maybe a hundred pointers to rate say maybe France but when it comes to developing countries it may use at most twenty. Corruption isn’t isolated to developing countries take the US maybe you have heard of Madoff and this is not the only such case but do they get marked down for corruption, i don’t think so.

  5. Relating to the Mckinsey report. The Mckinsey Company is a reputable firm and I’m sure that they have some form of licensing and is registered to preform such reports. I agree you might not agree with their final reports as you have your own opinion. but according to this site it’s comes the most recommended and I’m sure such a highly recommended consulting firm would not provide bogus reports.

  6. “Before pouring in millions of dollars, Guyana’s donors should beware that the country is not heading fast into the desert.”

    I agree that Guyana’s forest is not turning into a desert anytime soon but in the near future if funds are not raised for adaptation to climate change it maybe your wish come true. You may not know Guyana has a coastline that is 6 feet below sea level and no infastructure to protect it against the rising sea. The best and most cost effective option would be to protect the coastline where most of the arable farming land is and 90% of it’s population rather than relocating to higher lands but this adaptation cost is estimated to be approximately 1 billion US dollars almost 75%of it’s GDP and if Guyana doesn’t get this funding from IFI’s then the only other option would be to start opening gold mines and cutting down trees so as you can see the issue is not that a simple one.

  7. raj is talkin absolute rubbish and is here to defend the Guyana govt [a tall order by any measure]
    1. the govt does not have one environmental policy it can point to [National Agricultural Research Institution vehicles drive around with bio-diesel label on doors. only one thing funny, they fill up at the gas station on regular diesel]
    2.raj and his friends do not accept international reports that don’t agree with their view of the world
    3. let raj tell us how many billions have already been looted in this so.called sea defence program and the water is still coming over the sea walls. 156 million was just spent on a sluice built in the wrong location
    4. those in guyana govt and friends are always threatening that they are going to cut down the forest if they don’t get what they want. does anyone really believe these folks care about the environment? [give us money or we will cut down the forest!! and do what is the question?]

    if the guyana govt is serious about the environment it would at least, install a solar panel on one govt building, stop the landfill from burning and polluting the capital, clean up the garbage and sewage in the capitol including the sewage around parliament building, ban the imports of styrooam and plastic bags that are an eyesore even in the forest they claim to love etc etc
    they could also remove the presidential spokesman who is a child molestor, the minister who cant stop shooting off his guns in public, the army chief who beats his wife etc etc

    i could go on and on but will stop here for now
    and finally nobody in their right mind is going to give the guyana govt 1 billion marbles, much less 1 billion dollars

  8. “Greed, Genocide … and now ‘Green’: Corruption and Under-Development in Guyana” … a citizen’s response to REDD-related and corruption issues in Guyana.

    The following letter and attachment has also been copied to the Norwegian agency for Development Cooperation.

    4th February, 2010

    Executive Secretary,
    The Inspection Panel
    1818 H Street, NW,
    Washington, DC 20433,


    This letter should be considered as an open and formal letter to the President of the World Bank, and it’s Inspection Panel, by a private citizen of a member country. It is founded in part on the following comment by a local accounting luminary: “…It is hard to believe that neither of them nor anyone in the government, nor in the international donor community that keeps putting money into the Office, recognises this obvious conflict of interest or simply is not interested even in token accountability…” (See “Financial Lawlessnes on the Increase”; )

    It is being copied to the CARICOM and Commonwealth Secretariats, and CARICOM’s Attorneys-General.

    1. I, the undersigned, am a citizen of the Republic of Guyana, and would express my concern over the fact that the World Bank may be about to further contribute to a state of affairs in Guyana that may be irreconcilably opposed to its stated position on corruption, racism and good governance.

    2. I am very concerned that your staff in Guyana may not be reporting the disturbing episodes of financial misconduct and social disenfranchisement (some have called it ‘corruption that is ruinous to the state’, while others have referred to ‘economic genocide’) that have been a feature of economic and political life in Guyana these past 10-15 years.

    The attached document further illustrates my initial concerns and gives a short summary of the available evidence. I have referred to this brief “snapshot” as “Greed, Genocide … and now ‘Green’: Corruption and Under-Development in Guyana” ( )

    3. It is clear to me, given the initial evidence in the brief attached summary, that the hopes and dreams of a maturing nation are being (have been) sacrificed on the altar of common and loutish thievery, racism and fascism!

    It is inevitable that many Guyanese are being, and will continue to be affected negatively by same if corrective action within constitutional boundaries is not encouraged/facilitated immediately.

    4. To the extent that the above continues to this day, why is your local and institutional staff not recommending that the many examples of legal/institutional injustices in Guyana be fixed before you commit to Guyana’s latest bid for World-Bank carbon funds?

    5. An investigation and review (of your resident staff in Guyana, and of Bank-policy relative to Guyana) seems necessary to allay my considerable fears that the imminent disbursement of US$30 million in World Bank Forest Carbon Partnership Fund (FCPF) and climate-change-mitigation funds to Guyana will meet with the same fate as that of billions of dollars in the Auditor-General’s report for 2006 (and 10 previous years).

    Please also advise me, and other citizens of Guyana, on what the World Bank is doing to address corruption and racism issues in its member states, specifically Guyana.

    6. You should also feel free to direct these inquiries to that section/department of the World Bank that can best deal with them. I would appreciate your communication of the e-mail address of any responsible officer/department in that regard.

    7. I formally request the Inspection Panel recommend to the World Bank’s Executive Directors that an investigation of the matters in the attached report, and specified at (5) above, be carried out. I should not have to mention that it would accrue to the benefit of ALL Guyanese if these investigations were carried out, and fixes implemented, before any FCPF funds were disbursed!

    Best regards
    Roger Williams

  9. Additionally, is important to keep in mind that the Government Guyana, their financial agencies with or without projects or in partnership with the World Bank should comply with The Equator Principles before any financial aid for REDD implementation. The Equator Principles Financial Institutions (EPFIs) have consequently adopted these Principles in order to ensure that the projects that are financed by those entities are developed in a manner that is socially responsible and reflect sound environmental management practices. By doing so, negative impacts on project-affected ecosystems and communities should be avoided where possible, and if these impacts are unavoidable, they should be reduced, mitigated and/or compensated for appropriately.
    These Principles are intended to serve as a common baseline and framework for the implementation by each EPFI of its own internal social and environmental policies, procedures and standards related to its project financing activities.
    Therefore, due the complexity of issues involved in REDD financial institutions seeking to play a role in reduced emissions activities must create the capacity and frameworks to enhance the obligations, standards, and commitments of the Equator Principles for Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation.
    Miguel Fredes
    Policy consultant

    We will not provide loans to projects where the borrower will not or is unable to comply with our respective social and environmental policies and procedures that implement the Equator Principles.