According to the organisation Forest Justice, the unfortunate increase in Guyana’s deforestation was made possible by overestimates of that country’s previous rates of forest clearance. So, while participants believed that deforestation was dropping over the last 12 months, it actually doubled.
The agreement signed with Norway in November 2009 was initially seen as a landmark project and a potential blueprint which other forest nations could replicate. However, a recent report commissioned by the Guyana Forestry Commission, and implemented by New Zealand-based consultants, shows that the deforestation rates assumed for the Norwegian funded project were unrealistically high and confirms that over the first year of the agreement the rate of actual deforestation in the country has soared.
“It’s too early to say if this increase is a direct result of the flawed data in the agreement, but there is undoubtedly an incentive for Guyana to both profit from expanding forestry activities and simultaneously get paid by Norway to reduce deforestation, claims Laura Furones of Global Witness.
“The Norwegian and Guyanese governments must therefore adopt the precautionary principle to ensure that this is not the beginning of an upward trend that threatens local livelihoods and biodiversity,” continued Furones.
The solution is to base compensation payments on accurate historical data and make sure that human activities – specifically logging and mining – are reduced to ensure decreased rates of deforestation.