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Guyana’s getting ready for “green lane” access to the EU market

St George's cathedral in Georgetown. One of the biggest wooden buildings in the Carribean.

Guyana hopes to be the first Latin American country to conclude VPA negotiations – it currently expects to enter the implementation stage next year. GTF Director Francisco Escobedo Grotewold, the organisation’s board representative for Latin America, participated in a FLEGT workshop in Guyana on 28 and 29 September 2016.

“From my own point of view, Guyana is a particular case because it has a really low population of around 800,000 compared with its big territory of 214,970 km2”, said Mr Grotewold. “The land is almost fully covered by natural forest. This is the best scenario a country can have to develop its forestry sector in a correct way”. A VPA would enable Guyana to gain easy access to the financially strong European market – a market where not only unprocessed tropical timber, but also engineered tropical wood products are in demand.

Europe has become a niche market for Guyana

However, over the last few years Europe has become something of a niche market for Guyana. Back in 2010, the country still delivered roughly 16% of its overall tropical timber exports to the European Union, according to information from the forest service of Guyana (see figure 1). By 2015, this figure dropped to just 6%, with the United Kingdom being the main European importer. In addition to the European economic crisis and resultant fluctuations in demand, stricter procurement policies – most importantly the European Timber Regulation (EUTR) – have probably played a role in the fall in European imports from Guyana as well.

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Figure 1: Exports by destination

At the same time, the share of Guyana’s timber exports to the Asia-Pacific region continued to grow. It currently stands at almost 60% and the increase has largely made up for the fall in deliveries to Europe. However, Guyana’s timber exports to the Asia-Pacific region consist mainly of log deliveries to China and India. They are thus not contributing to developing industrial capacities in Guyana and reap the rewards of further processing.

“For Guyana any agreement that can open opportunities to market their high value tropical timber in a sustainable way to an important market like Europe can be seen as an opportunity”, said Mr Grotewold. “However, the country faces a number of challenges, the most important of which are achieving sustainable forest management throughout the country as well as building industrial and commercial capacity”.

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Figure 2: Trend in total export values (2010-2015)

The overall value of Guyana’s timber exports more or less stagnated between 2010 and 2015, according to the country’s forest service. Decline during the years 2011-2013 was followed by a rather sharp increase in 2014 and renewed decline in 2015 – to slightly below the level seen in 2010 (see figure 2).

Guyana has made significant progress in its FLEGT VPA process over the last few years. It has engaged in broad stakeholder consultations and has a communication and consultation strategy document to guide its future engagement with stakeholders and effectively communicate with the public at large. Though the Asia/Pacific region is the country’s major market, it is keen to gain access to the EU markets and take advantage of opportunities offered under the FLEGT VPA process.

Iwokrama achieves FSC certification

An encouraging sign is that forest managed by Iwokrama International Centre for Rain Forest Conservation and Development – an organisation established by the Government of Guyana in 1996 – achieved FSC certification in October 2016. The Iwokrama forests were the firsts to receive FSC certification in Guyana.

Added by: Sarah Storck