Treaties ensure Guyana’s rich biodiversity thrives

Treaties ensure Guyana’s rich biodiversity thrives

With the support of international allies, around 15 million hectares of unspoiled rainforests are being preserved and protected


Boasting vast swathes of virgin rainforests, Guyana’s rich biodiversity acts as a strong foundation for climate regulation, poverty reduction, provisioning of fresh water and hydroelectric power and economic growth and development in areas including agriculture, forestry and fisheries, as well as carbon credits.

Protecting this colorful tapestry of rare flora and fauna is a top perogative of President Ali’s administration. “We have one of the lowest deforestation rates in the world because we care about the environment,” reiterates Minister of Natural Resources, Vickram Bharrat.

“We don’t want to cut down our trees as they are a part of a way of life for us.  In the past, the export market wasn’t there for us so much and we were more subsistence. So, we cut a few trees, the community made some money and we were satisfied with that.”

Of course, actions speak louder than words, which is why a few months ago, Minister Bharrat and the EU signed the inaugural, legally binding trade agreement to promote sustainable trade of legal timber to the huge trade bloc. The agreement gives EU-based timber buyers assurance that timber products from Guyana are legal. The pact will also help improve forest governance, tackle illegal logging and promote trade in verified legal timber products.

“Through the Voluntary Partnership Agreement (VPA), Guyana will tackle trade in timber that has been illegally harvested, transported or processed,” the European Commission announced. “The country will improve market access for law-abiding businesses, as well as modernize its forestry sector, create jobs, promote sustainable development and protect the rights of indigenous peoples. Under the VPA, Guyana commits to developing a timber legality assurance system to assess that timber products — for all stages of the supply chain — have been produced in accordance with national legislation. When this system is operational, Guyana can issue verified legal timber products with forest law enforcement, governance and trade (FLEGT licenses). The license certifies that the timber or timber products exported under that license are legal.”

Minister Bharrat was delighted to put pen to paper on the agreement — which came after a decade of high-level negotiations — and made the nation the first country in the Amazon region to sign such a deal. Not only does it consolidate Guyana’s position as a frontrunner in the protection, restoration and sustainable management of forests, but supports a recent Memorandum of Understanding on a Forest Partnership with the EU.

“Our forests are home to more than 9 000 species and it’s crucial that we preserve such wildlife”, he said. “Forests in Guyana are also a net carbon sink and have a major role to play in the world to mitigate climate change. Through sustainable forest management we can ensure they can continue to be a home to our rich biodiversity, help us strengthen the economy, and improve people’s livelihoods. This deal with the EU will boost the trade in legal timber, which will stimulate the creation of green jobs while protecting the precious environment we have. This bilateral agreement will also advance the integrated planning and management of Guyana’s forest sector under the LCDS 2030.”

The ink was barely dry on that significant nature preservation deal before representatives from Caribbean Community (CARICOM)members — including Guyana — signed the historic Ocean Biodiversity Treaty after talks that began around two decades ago. The negotiations for the historic Treaty on Conservation and Sustainable use of Marine Biodiversity Areas, Beyond National Jurisdictions, concluded in the middle of the first quarter at the United Nations Headquarters in New York City.

Through internationally recognized legal frameworks, the treaty aims to ensure ocean preservation and mitigate the impact of climate change on sensitive marine biodiversity reserves and ocean ecosystems. The provisions aim for better governance of the high seas, including a more integrated approach to regulation and the capacity to benefit sustainably from the marine resources.

The treaty also requires environmental impact assessments for activities like deep-sea mining and promotes international cooperation on ocean governance, which is crucial for mitigating the impacts of climate change on marine ecosystems, CARICOM officials noted.