- Illegal logging causes social problems, environmental degradation and a loss of economic opportunities
- In December 2012, Guyana and the EU began negotiating a Voluntary Partnership Agreement (VPA) to promote trade in legal timber products and improve forest governance
- Guyana and the EU concluded negotiations and initialled the VPA in November 2018; it will enter into force after the parties have both signed and ratified it
- Under the VPA Guyana will develop a timber legality assurance system so it can issue FLEGT licences to verified legal timber products
- Once Guyana begins FLEGT licensing, the products covered by the VPA will only be exported to the EU accompanied by FLEGT licences attesting to their legality
- Products not covered by the VPA and exported to the EU will remain subject to the exercise of due diligence by EU importers in the context of the EU Timber Regulation
- FLEGT-licensed timber products from Guyana will be able to enter the EU market without undergoing the due diligence checks required by the EU Timber Regulation
- Legal and governance reforms identified by stakeholders through the VPA process are already underway
- There is stakeholder support for the aim of achieving a credible VPA. The Guyanese government, the private sector and indigenous peoples are looking for ways to ensure decisions related to a VPA are taken in a participatory way.
Guyana’s forest sector
Forests cover 87% of Guyana and make an important contribution to the economy, providing jobs and livelihoods. The government owns the vast majority of the forests and lands, while indigenous peoples own 14% of the land (covered by 1.3 million hectares of forest; 6% of the country’s total). In 2017, the annual deforestation rate was estimated to be 0.048%. Most deforestation is attributed to mining for gold and bauxite, which represents 60% of Guyana’s exports by value. Mining accounted for 87% of deforestation in 2014 and 74% in 2017.
The timber trade between Guyana and the EU accounts for up to 5-8% of Guyana’s timber industry. Most exports of timber from Guyana to the EU are destined for the UK.