Guyana is a small country of 215,000 km2 located on the north-eastern shoulder of South America, with a population of approximately 750,000. As at September 2010 Guyana has approximately 87% of its land area covered by forests, approximately 18.5 million hectares (GFC and Poyry 2011).
Guyana is an example of a high forest cover, low deforestation rate (HFLD) country and while historical estimates of forest cover and deforestation rates have suffered from a lack of data, estimates of annual deforestation are extremely low (Cedergren, 2009). A recent government commissioned study placed deforestation rates at 0.03% per annum between 1990 and 2009, rising to 0.06% between 2009 and 2010 (GFC and Poyry 2011).
Guyana has relatively low levels of income and economic development with a GDP per capita in 2010 of just USD3,088 (PPP). The economy is heavily dependent on agricultural commodities and extractive industries with gold and bauxite contributing to over half of all exports in 2010 (Guyana Bureau of Statistics 2010). The major economic activities are also the main drivers of deforestation, with a recent study identifying the mining sector as the main driver of deforestation (GFC and Poyry 2011).
Guyana has been at the forefront of the move toward a REDD mechanism since the offer made by President Bharrat Jagdeo in 2006 to the UK to establish a bilateral partnership to determine how to protect the entirety of the Guyanese rainforest in exchange for economic incentives (BBC 2008). The UK never responded to the offer, but in November 2009 Guyana and Norway signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) for funding of up to USD 250 million over five years. The MOU provides performance-related finance to implement Guyana’s Low Carbon Development Strategy (LCDS), a national plan to reorient Guyana’s economy on to a low–carbon path.
The LCDS is not the first such innovative activity in Guyana. The Iwokrama International Centre for Rainforest Conservation and Development (IIC) and the Upper Essequibo Conservation Concession (UECC), a conservation concession of 82,204 ha issued to Conservation International (CI) are two examples of other conservation initiatives in the country.
REDD in Guyana is intrinsically linked with the development and implementation of the LCDS and the MOU with Norway is currently the only source of finance through which the LCDS will be implemented although other financing sources may be harnessed as they become available. The MOU establishes a framework for REDD payments into the Guyana REDD+ Investment Fund (GRIF) which will fund projects under the LCDS, with payments beginning in 2010. In addition, and as a crucial part of this framework, Guyana is a pilot country under the Forest Carbon Partnership Facility (FCPF), and its Readiness Preparation Proposal (R-PP) was assessed in June 2009 following submission of its Readiness Plan Idea Note (R-PIN) in February 2008. The R-PP outlines national level activities to be conducted to achieve readiness for the implementation of a forest carbon financing mechanism. Some of the main activities include conducting of national consultations and outreach on REDD implementation in Guyana; development of a REDD Strategy and REDD Implementation Framework; work on Reference Levels as well as the design and implementation of a Monitoring Reporting & Verification System (MRVS). Though Guyana has not yet benefitted from funding under the FCPF to implement its R-PP, work has commenced on the development and implementation of the national MRVS. The MRVS will be used to determine the level of performance-related payments under the MOU with Norway. Guyana is also, currently collaborating with local and international partners in the development of a Community MRVS initiative.
Guyana is developing a national-level system for REDD, where payments are linked to the area of the State Forest Estate. Titled Amerindian communities will have the option of opting into the agreement, receiving payments either directly or through an Amerindian Development Fund. There is no separate sub-national implementation of REDD in Guyana as of yet, although the RPP leaves open the possibility of future sub-national REDD demonstration activities. The current and planned activities relating to REDD and the LCDS are outlined in Guyana’s REDD+ Governance and Development Plan.
Management and coordination
The management of issues relating to climate change in Guyana is conducted by the Office of Climate Change (OCC) housed within the Office of the President. The OCC has been established to work across Government to support work on climate adaptation, mitigation and REDD. It serves to bring together and align efforts that are already underway and to co-ordinate efforts by multilateral and non-governmental organizations assisting Guyana’s climate change agenda. The OCC is the entity with overall coordinating responsibility for ongoing national consultations on Guyana’s Low-Carbon Development Strategy (LCDS) and related stakeholder engagement processes, working closely with the REDD Secretariat in the Guyana Forestry Commission.
The Guyana Forestry Commission has been designated as the agency responsible for the implementation of key technical aspects of REDD - including the development of the national MRV system, as well as implementation of the RPP - and has established a REDD+ Secretariat as the operational unit to conduct these activities. This Secretariat is likely to be strengthened through funding from the GRIF. As part of the implementation of the RPP a National REDD+ Working Group will be established with membership from governmental agencies, civil society and the private sector.
The twin development of REDD through the LCDS and its related institutions and the efforts under the FCPF and the RPP has raised issues. In a recent verification report of progress of the LCDS the Rainforest Alliance highlighted a lack of clarity ’on the relationship between the REDD+ efforts and the LCDS’ (Donovan et al 2010 p22). Guyana, however, sees the R-PP as a discrete mechanism of the LCDS, which is an overall strategy.
Stakeholder engagement and participation
In the development of its LCDS and its related activities Guyana has committed itself to a full stakeholder engagement and participation, and in particular, all activities will be in keeping with the principle of Free Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC). The development of the LCDS has also led to the establishment of the Low Carbon Development Strategy Multi-Stakeholder Steering Committee (MSSC) which includes members of Government agencies, civil society, youth representatives, indigenous representation, both national & NGOs, the private sector and international NGOs. National stakeholder awareness and engagements took place following the development of the first draft of the LCDS, with further meetings taking place in all 10 regions of Guyana. The MSSC oversaw this process. The initial stakeholder process has been independently assessed by monitors from the IIED, who highlighted the significant headway made in stakeholder engagement in this areas, certain limitations and recommended improvements to the process (Dow et al 2009). The report concluded that the process had ‘opened a new space for multi-stakeholder involvement’ but moving forward the process needed support from all state and non-state actors.
Feedback from stakeholder meetings led to a revised second, and subsequently, third draft of the LCDS, the current version is that of May 2010. As a commitment to Free, Prior and Informed consent Guyana will create an Opt-In mechanism for titled Amerindian communities to choose whether to participate or not in the national-level REDD mechanism. Guyana’s RPP was developed in consultation with government agencies and with the support of a number of NGOs. It involved a series of awareness workshops with Amerindian communities, forest users and the general public. As part of the RPP process the government plans to establish a National REDD+ Working Group that will include government members, representatives from NGOs and the private sector.
The concept of Free Prior and Informed Consent has been clearly applied to Amerindian communities. In an assessment of the progress of enabling activities a ‘number of individuals indicated that FPIC should clearly not just apply to Amerindian communities, but to all communities’ (Donovan et al 2010 p26).
Rights and tenure
Guyana has two main types of land tenure, public property through the State Forest Estate and State Lands, and private property including the communally owned land of 96 titled Amerindian communities. On public lands Guyana grants three levels of logging concessions, and three different types of mining claims, in addition to State land leases for agricultural/other activities. These concessions give some rights to concessionaires regarding access and use of the forest. The government has committed itself to retaining these concessions under the LCDS, but with a renewed focus on enforcement of regulations, third party verification and independent forest monitoring.
Under the LCDS a plan has been laid out for the tilting, demarcation and extension of Amerindian Lands to address issues regarding untitled Amerindian communities and their participation in the REDD mechanism. Despite this it has been noted that the Government of Guyana should ‘recognize that the absence of discussion on the constraints or challenges faced on rights-related efforts … has created uncertainty’ (Donovan et al 2010 p5).
Compliance (incentives and enforcement)
The LCDS aims to strengthen compliance with existing environmental regulations. Under the Mining Act, for example, there is a commitment to reclaim land a process that has historically not been strong within Guyana’s mining industry. Enhanced enforcement of such regulations has been identified as one possible activity under a REDD Strategy to be developed under Guyana’s RPP.
Incentives under the LCDS include the creation of employment opportunities in non-traditional sectors, and the provision of improved infrastructure including electricity supply through the Amaila Falls Hydropower Facility.
The LCDS also proposes to provide financial payments to forest communities under an Opt In mechanism. Particular reference has been made for the compensation of displaced forest workers, including miners. The LCDS makes explicit reference though to the fact that there is no intention to share REDD payments with large concessionaires who will be allowed to continue operations albeit under tighter regulation.
Guyana is currently using an interim national reference level under the framework of its MOU with Norway. Under the MOU Guyana will use the Combined Incentives reference level using a combination of the average deforestation rate for Guyana between 2000 and 2009 and the average deforestation rate for developing countries between 2005 and 2009. In the absence of clear data for these two numbers the reference level was set at 0.45% as an average of 0.3% for Guyana’s historical reference level, and 0.6% for the global average.
In early 2011 new data became available and Guyana’s 2000-2009 annual average deforestation rate was revised to 0.03%, and the global deforestation rate to 0.52%, giving an amended reference level of 0.275%. This reference level will be further revised if and when a methodology is agreed under the REDD mechanism under the UNFCCC. The reference level of 0.275% is intended to be used to determine payments under the MOU with Norway, but should the annual deforestation rate exceed the rate for 2010 of 0.056% Guyana will received a reduced payment, with the reduction in payment increasing up to 100% at a level of 0.1%, above which Guyana will receive no payments.
The only exception is any deforestation that arises as a result of the construction of the Amaila Falls Hydropower Facility , a project that is proposed to be part-funded from the GRIF. In addition to the reference levels the Joint Concept Note (JCN) relating to the MOU establishes a carbon proxy loss of 100tC/ha from deforestation, to be revised as more information arises from the establishment of Guyana’s MRV system.
A number of different institutions are responsible for the establishment of safeguards relating to REDD in Guyana. Under the LCDS the World Bank, as the Trustee of the GRIF, will apply its fiduciary safeguards. Under the terms of the Administrative agreement establishing the GRIF the GRIF Steering Committee is responsible for establishing fiduciary, safeguard and operational standards for partner entities other than the World Bank, the IDB or the UN. In the RPP the Strategic Environmental and Social Assessment (SESA) will support the drafting and finalizing the required safeguards for readiness related activities/strategies identified in the RPP.
Projects funded under the GRIF will follow the environmental and social safeguards of the partner entities chosen to help implement these projects. As it stands these partner entities are nominated as the UNDP, the IDB and the World Bank. Additional partner entities may be added if the GRIF Steering Committee deems it necessary and if the entities meet standards established by the committee. This process will remain in place until the process of establishing safeguards is determined under the UNFCCC.
Historically Guyana’s capacity to MRV emissions from deforestation and forest degradation has been very low, with only approximate estimates of historic deforestation rates available for the country as a whole. One of the key readiness activities under Guyana’s REDD initiative is performance measurement and reporting under a national Monitoring Reporting and Verification System. It is being developed using a capacity building roadmap approach using a phased approach. The framework for the development of this system has been laid-down in Guyana’s Monitoring Reporting and Verification System Roadmap. The first steps along this roadmap have been made in 2010 and 2011 with the completion of the Guyana’s Monitoring Reporting and Verification System (MRVS) Interim Measures Report Final, March 16, 2011 that assessed historic levels of forest cover and deforestation rates (GFC & Poyry 2011).
A MRVS Steering Committee was convened to oversee the development and implementation of Guyana’s MRVS. The national MRV system would encompass the ability to monitor the drivers of deforestation and monitor forests, forest area change and forest carbon stocks. Work has been completed on the Initial Forest Area Assessment and has commenced in a number of areas relating to the Forest Carbon Stock Assessment.
Guyana has one of the highest proportions of forest cover of any country in the world. The FAO estimates that of the total land area of just over 21 million hectares 71% is forest cover with 17% other wooded land (FAO 2010). A recent study places the area of forested areas in Guyana at 18.4 million hectares, equivalent to 87% (GFC & Poyry 2011). The major types of forest are rainforest, seasonal forest, dry evergreen forest, marsh forest (including mangrove and swamp forest) and mountain forest (ITTO 2005).
Guyana is a constituent of the wider Guiana Shield Rainforest that also covers Suriname, French Guiana and part of Venezuela and Brazil. This rainforest is one of the largest expanses of untouched tropical rainforest in the world. It also contains a high level of biodiversity with estimates in the range of more than 1,200 vertebrate species and more than 6,000 plant species present in Guyana (ITTO 2005). Many of these are endemic and/or vulnerable and Guyana is home to 68 species on IUCN’s red-list (IUCN 2011).
Guyana has historically experienced very low rates of deforestation with the FAO reporting zero rates of deforestation back to 1990. A recent study, the first of its kind in Guyana, identified deforestation rates of 0.06% for 2009-2010, rising from 0.02% per annum between 2005 and 2009 (GFC & Poyry 2011). The increase in the latter year was attributed to increased mining activity that accounted for 91% of the deforestation in 2009-2010. This mining activity is a crucial part of Guyana’s economy, however, representing 11% of GDP in 2009 (IMF 2011), while gold and bauxite made up over half of all exports in 2010 (Guyana Bureau of Statistics 2010).
The development of the Low Carbon Development Strategy (LCDS) and the move toward the implementation of a national-level REDD system has led to the creation of a number of new institutions. The Office of Climate Change (OCC) reports directly to the President and has been established to coordinate all activities relating to climate change across the government. A REDD Secretariat has been established within the Guyana Forestry Commission (GFC) to manage the interaction with the Forest Carbon Partnership Facility (FCPF) and the development of a national system for MRV. A Project Management Office (PMO) has been established to facilitate projects under the LCDS, and the Multi-Stakeholder Steering Committee (MSSC) has been established to facilitate coordination and consultation.
These institutions complement the existing natural resource management framework in Guyana which include the GFC, the Guyana Geology and Mines Commission (GGMC), the Guyana Lands and Surveys Commission (GL&SC) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Ministry of Amerindian Affairs (MoAA). A number of non-governmental organizations have been active in REDD and forest conservation in Guyana, chiefly Conservation International Guyana, who have supported both REDD efforts and the development of a Protected Areas system, and the Iwokrama International Centre for Rainforest Conservation and Development who work both inside its reserve and with communities in the surrounding area through organizations such as the North Rupununi Development Board.
The move towards a national-level REDD system in Guyana has not yet been accompanied by a new legal framework. Natural resource management is supported by an Environmental Protection Act (1996) that established the EPA and processes for Environmental Impact Assessments and the granting of environmental authorisations. The Forestry Act (2009) has recently been updated to establish a stronger legal framework for sustainable forest management, conservation and engagement with local communities. The Mining Act (1989) provides the framework for managing mining activities including the remit of the GGMC, while a new Amerindian Act (2006) provides the framework for Amerindian communities to manage their communally owned land. Protected Areas legislation was passed in July 2011, which repealed previous legislation relating to the Kaieteur National Park (Kaieteur National Park Act). The Iwokrama forest is covered by a separate legal instrument: the (Iwokrama Act).
Plans and policies
The Low Carbon Development Strategy (LCDS) dominates the landscape of plans and policies relating to REDD in Guyana. It provides the framework of current and future participation in any REDD mechanism, along with the path that Guyana wishes to follow in transitioning to a low-carbon development economy. A national REDD Strategy will be produced as part of Guyana’s implementation of REDD readiness activities, while a REDD+ Governance Development Plan has been produced as part of the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Norway. A Monitoring, Reporting and Verification System Roadmap has also been established that outlines the development of a national level MRV system over a three year period.
The LCDS is super-imposed on to a forestry sector that follows overarching policies released in 2011, the National Forest Policy Statement , and the 2011 National Forest Plan . The introduction of the National Log Export Policy in 2009 clarified the log export regime.
REDD activities in Guyana fall into two broad categories. The first is activities funded by the Guyana REDD+ Investment Fund (GRIF), the first wave of which are in proposal stages, including the Amaila Falls Hydropower Facility, demarcation of Amerindian Lands and Institutional Strengthening relating to REDD+. These are an integral part of the Low Carbon Development Strategy (LCDS) and are part of the overarching MOU with Norway .
The second set of activities relate to strengthening Guyana’s readiness for REDD, including the implementation of its RPP as part of its role of under the FCPF. Capacity-building projects financed by the IDB, Conservation International and KfW have also helped to strengthen relevant government institutions, chiefly the Guyana Forestry Commission (GFC) in this area.
There are provisions in Guyana’s RPP for sub-national REDD demonstration activities however, as yet, there has been no disbursement to Guyana from the FCPF.
Along with REDD activities there are a number of forest conservation related activities, including Conservation International’s establishment of the Upper Essequibo Conservation Concession, and the community-owned conservation area at Konashen. In addition, Canopy Capital and Iwokrama signed an agreement in 2008 for Canopy Capital to undertake activities to measure and market the ecosystem services of the Iwokrama forest.
Currently, the main source of REDD funding in Guyana is via its MOU with Norway, that provides finance of up to USD250 million between 2010 and 2015. This finance is placed into the Guyana REDD+ Investment Fund (GRIF), which then funds projects and activities under the LCDS. Priority activities for funding under the GRIF include the demarcation of Amerindian Lands and Institutional strengthening relating to REDD+, which are earmarked for USD3.6 million and USD7 million respectively. The Amaila Falls Hydropower facility could be part-funded by the purchase of USD30-40 million of equity via the GRIF. It should be noted that while Norway is currently the only contributor to the GRIF, it is planned that Guyana will partner with other countries in similar arrangements, with the GRIF being the mechanism through which such payments would be disbursed.
In addition to finance via Norway, Guyana is seeking other partners to provide finance to activities and the GRIF. One source is the FCPF, through which Guyana is expected to receive a total of USD 3.6 million to implement activities outlined in the RPP. However, as previously mentioned, to date, Guyana has received no funds from the FCPF. Conservation International has helped to harness finance from KfW to assist the Guyana Forestry Commission in developing and implementing its Monitoring, Reporting and Verification System Roadmap, along with supporting it directly. The IDB has provided financial support to build capacity in the Office of Climate Change and both USAID and the ITTO have provided financial and technical support to the Guyana Forestry Commission in building capacity for MRV. Guyana is also providing in-kind contributions to these projects.
At the subnational level, Conservation International are financing up to USD100,000 per annum to fund the Upper Essequibo Conservation Concession , including operating costs and paying fees to the Guyanese Government and Canopy Capital are provide funding to the Iwokrama Reserve in return for the right to measure and market ecosystem services (Iwokrama 2009).