1.0 Introduction

The forestry sector is another major economic contributor to the national economy, bringing in a significant portion of the gross domestic product. This is seen as a viable business for Guyana's forests contain many valuable species of wood and is known for its hardwoods such as  the Greenheart and Purpleheart species which are found mainly in Guyana.

1.1 Problems associated with logging     

Though exploitation of natural resources is necessary for Guyana's economic growth, the methods used to extract them is the deciding factor in maintaining the health of the environment and ensuring sustainable development. In relation to forestry, there are methods which foresters can employ to extract timber and at the same time keeping adverse impacts to a minimum -  sustainable forestry. This will ensure that there are more trees for future extraction. Keeping impacts on species of flora and fauna at a minimum is also in the interest of foresters as many of these species are vital for the propagation and growth of commerically important trees species.

If logging activities are not effectively managed, it can result in loss of species - both plant and animal; as well as the erosion of topsoil which can lead to nutrient loss, blocking of water channels and eventual flooding. The water ways in the locations can also be affected by siltation of the water, thus affecting the aquatic plant and animal life as well as causing other problems downstream. In addition the general degradation of the land, it is possible that the conditions especially that of clear felling, or excessive felling, can lead to desertification or a drastic change in the vegetative cover as well as the physical environment, i.e. topography. Even carefully managed logging activities have adverse effects with skid trails, access roads and felling. Effects can also be anthropogenic, and in this case affect the livelihood of the Indigenous people who live in or near to the areas being logged. Sometimes conflicts occur between the Indigenous people and forestry concessions, sometimes concessions granted to logging companies containing settlements.

One major non timber product being harvested in Guyana is the heart of palm or the cabbage palm. It is harvested from the Manicole Palm which grows in the interior forests of the country. Foreign firms pay the indigenous people a meager sum for every bundle of the harvest. This is a growing issue as the palm itself is listed on the ICUN's red list of threatened species.

1.2 Impacts of improper practices on Guyana's economy

With today's higher level of environmental awareness ion the international level, certain conditions and restrictions are now placed by western countries upon the importation of timber. If the wood is from an endangered specie of tree or not certified as being harvested by environmentally friendly methods, then entry into the market will be refused. Countries such such as Guyana who depend on this commodity as a major income earner, must re-examine their logging methods. If certain requirements are not satisfied, they will loose a significant portion of the national earnings. Meanwhile, this measure will hopefully encourage more sustainable logging in Guyana and worldwide.


Plate 1. Forest trail from Linden to Annai.