President David Granger on Friday pointed to the negative effects of the extractive industries on the environment as he encouraged Guyanese to plant more trees.
The President participated in the Ministry of Agriculture’s annual National Tree Day activities held at the Union Sports and Cultural Complex, No. 53 Village, East Berbice-Corentyne (Region Six).
He noted that the extractive industries, despite the economic benefits they provide, are associated with air pollution, biodiversity loss, freshwater and oceanic contamination, greenhouse gas emissions, land degradation and resource depletion.
“Logging and mining are the main causes of deforestation which destroys biodiversity and could result in land degradation. Reforestation, land reclamation and the encouragement of environmentally-friendly logging and mining are two of the measures which will be employed to counter the adverse effects of extractive industries,” President Granger said.
The observance of National Tree Day commenced in October 2015.
Guyana is part of the Guiana Shield, one of the world’s oldest geological formations and largest blocks of tropical forests, which spans across its neighbouring states of Brazil, Suriname, Venezuela and French Guiana.
President Granger noted that trees provide a range of economic services as well as food, shelter and medicine.
“Farmers reap produce from trees which allow them to earn an income, sustain their families and generate exports and employment. Agriculture, forestry and fisheries collectively account for 17.5 per cent of our employed population,” the President said.
The Head of State said that Guyana’s exported fruits and vegetables were worth US$ 8M in 2018.
“This value is way below our natural potential,” he said.
“Economists calculate that if we had a more robust programme for agro-processing we could export US$ 250M worth of agricultural produce. We could export more in agricultural produce than we are exporting in sugar and rice (by value),” President Granger said.
He pointed to the agro-processing industry which he said is a key element of Government’s strategy to ensure food security. This he said will reduce food imports thereby making more local food available in processed form.
Moreover, the President said agro-processing has the potential to transform rural and hinterland communities and augment the national product.
Minister of Agriculture, Mr. Noel Holder reiterated President Granger’s appeal for citizens to preserve the environment.
“It is an important responsibility for us to take care of the environment and trees are one of the most important aspects of a healthy environment. Trees are an important resource in our natural eco-system,” Minister Holder said.
Minister Holder said the National Tree Day is not only about planting trees but to expect preserve trees and to avoid deforestation.
“Deforestation is reversible by managing forestry resources and planting new trees,” said the Minister of Agriculture.
Friday’s exercise was themed “Time waits for no one; the best time to plant a tree is now”.
Guyana’s forests are the habitat of more than 800 species of birds, 179 species of reptiles, 225 species of mammals and much of the 130 species of amphibians.
Guyana has dedicated the Kanashen Protected Area – located in the Rupununi and spanning an area of almost 7,000 km2 – to the Queen’s Commonwealth Canopy, a network for forest conservation projects.
(Extracted and Modified from Ministry of the Presidency)