An inter-ministerial team has been working to reverse the UK ban on green heart lumber from Guyana.
Minister of Natural Resources, Raphael Trotman, said that his Ministry has been working along with the Ministries of Business and Foreign Affairs to seek a reversal of the ban.
“Greenheart is literally at the heart and soul of Guyana’s timber industry. It represents; in a sense, the strength of Guyana and to us we have a reputation to protect and we have to ensure that those who produce logs for use in marine construction and for lumber that we give them what they desire and that is, markets in the United Kingdom,” Trotman said today, at a press briefing held at Cara Lodge, Georgetown.
Early next year, a ministerial delegation will travel to the UK to press Guyana’s case. “We’re very interested in restoring the smooth trade and lifting the ban. We’ve had communication with the British High Commission,” Trotman said.
The ban on greenheart lumber came in May under the previous administration when relations between Guyana and the UK were at an all-time low. Minister Trotman said he believed it was a “combination of us being, I believe, out manoeuvred,” that led to the ban.
In a statement issued last year, Environmental Agency stated, “A decision has been made that we will apply the timber procurement policy rigorously and that we will only buy timber from legal and sustainable sources. This currently prohibits the purchase of new Greenheart’ (from Guyana) as it does not have sufficient evidence (based on UK Government requirements) that the forests of origin are sustainably managed.”
Guyana has been working with the European Union on finalising its European Union forest Law Enforcement Governance and Trade (EU FLEGT) Voluntary Partnership Agreement (VPA). Conclusion of the negotiation is very critical for the holistic development of Guyana’s forestry sector.
Meanwhile, providing clarification on companies in the forestry sector, Trotman said that the government is still in negotiations with Barama Company for the renewal of its contract.
In relation to Demerara Timbers Limited, the minister said that contrary to media reports, the company is not winding up. “We have been assured that the company has every desire to continue in Guyana but of course because of the slowdown in the Asian market they have slowed some operations and production but, there is no intention to leave the country or to surrender their operations,” Trotman said.