Guyana and EU in agreement to improve forest governance, trade in legal timber products

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Illegal logging in forests causes social problems, environmental degradation and loss of important economic opportunities.  With this in mind Guyana and the European Union (EU) have concluded a six-year process of negotiations towards a Voluntary Partnership Agreement (VPA), which aims to improve the application of forest laws, strengthen forest governance and promote trade in legal wood products. Representatives of Guyana and the EU initial the VPA on November 23 in Brussels, ahead of each side signing and ratifying the agreement.

With this agreement, Guyana will contribute to ensure that its forests are valued, managed and conserved for this and future generations. The FAO-EU FLEGT Programme works providing technical and financial assistance through seven projects in Guyana and an investment of more than half a million USD, promoting the creation and development of forest businesses and value chains of sustainable forest products with the aim of improving the governance and trade of verified legal timber products and the development of rural economies.

Guyana, with its clear forest vocation, has an area of 16.5 million hectares of natural forest; 5.5 million hectares are devoted to forest management, which represents 35% of the forests, according to data provided by the Guyana Forestry Commission (GFC). VPAs are among the elements of the EU Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade (FLEGT), which the EU adopted in response to the global problem of illegal logging and associated trade. The Guyana-EU VPA will enter into force after both sides have ratified it, triggering a period in which Guyana will develop a system for verifying the legality of its timber products and will implement its other VPA commitments. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) is helping to implement the FLEGT Action Plan in 25 tropical countries in Asia, Africa and America. This program, called FAO-EU FLEGT, implemented by FAO and funded by the EU, the governments of Sweden and the United Kingdom works actively in Guyana to establish several initiatives that encourage forest sector actors to use forests in a legal and sustainable, facilitating in parallel the negotiation and implementation of the VPA. The Government of Guyana gave the VPA a high political profile at the national and sectoral levels. Guyana is one of 15 countries that was negotiating a VPA with the European Union. During the negotiations, it consulted representatives of indigenous peoples, agro forestry communities, and the private forestry sector and government agencies.

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