Toshaos and loggers are now better equipped to manage Guyana’s forests, having attended a training workshop for those in administrative and managerial positions held at the National Toshaos Council on Hadfield Street, Georgetown from June 12 to 14.Toshaos and loggers have benefited from a Forest Management Workshop held at the offices of the National Toshaos Council on Hadfield StreetThe workshop, which concluded on Saturday, was aimed at ensuring adherence to the European Union Forest Law Enforcement Governance and Trade (EU-FLEGT) process.The training also sought to build administrative and managerial capacities of the participants, who will ultimately play leading roles in ensuring adherence to the EU-FLEGT process within Indigenous communities.Training for Indigenous leaders in this regard forms part of an agreement between the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations, under the FAO EU-FLEGT programme, and the NTC, for promoting sustainable forestry in Indigenous peoples’ communities through capacity building and direct participation in the EU-FLEGT Voluntary Partnership Agreement (VPA) process.The training included areas of financial management, project management, and proposals and budgeting; and it is expected that the skills of the participating leaders have been boosted.Toshao of Kimbia, Chairman of the Region 10 Council, Ricky Boyle, has said the programme has already made a difference within communities in that Upper Demerara-Berbice region. Boyle explained that villagers, many of whom are involved in the forestry sector, are very interested in the project, since they are seeking markets for their produce.“If they can get a direct market to EU, instead of going through a middle man, that would be of great benefit to my village…The people are dependent on the forest,” he disclosed.He also said the loggers are hopeful that, through the EU-FLEGT VPA project, EU buyers can have a direct exchange with them. He noted the importance of the training in ensuring the right products are supplied and buyers’ requirements are met.Meanwhile, Toshao Romeo Smith of Karrau Village, Lower Mazaruni, Region Seven (Cuyuni-Mazaruni), who also benefited from the programme, highlighted the importance of such a training to ensure that the village councils understand the EU-FLEGT process and what is meant by sustainable forest management.Smith has promised to engage the loggers in his village regarding the programme, for which he has expressed gratitude at having been allowed to participate.The FAO EU-FLEGT programme seeks to promote implementation of the FLEGT Action Plan by improving forest governance, providing technical assistance, and building capacity through funding for projects in eligible countries.Guyana has received some Gy$104 million (US$49,990) for the project. Minister within the Ministry of Indigenous Peoples’ Affairs, Valerie Garrido-Lowe; FAO Country Representative Gillian Smith, and the EU Delegation Representative Frederico Suarez were also present at the conclusion of the workshop.Communities that benefited from the training were those from Regions One (Barima-Waini), Two (Pomeroon-Supenaam), Seven (Cuyuni-Mazaruni), and 10 (Upper Demerara-Berbice).The toshaos and loggers in attendance were: Rymple Williams (toshao) and Garfield Williams (logger) of Waikerebi in Region One; Baramita Toshao Sharmain Rambajue, Kwebanna Deputy Toshao Andrew Wilson, and logger Marbel Hackette; Manawarin Toshao Shambach John and logger Kishore John; and Warapoka Toshao Allan Henry.Those in attendance from Region Two were: Mainstay Toshao Milton Fredericks and Wakapao Toshao Howard Cornelius. And those from Region Seven were Karrau Toshao Romeo Smith and Logger Sylvena Hohenkrik, Batavia Councillor Darline Bernard and Logger Clinton Prence.Those in attendance from Region 10 were River View Toshao Kenneth Edward and logger Andy Braithwaite; Great Falls Toshao Nichole Daniels and logger Curtis Bennette; Muritaro Toshao Loretta Fiedtkou and logger Selvis Spencer; and Kimbia Toshao Rickey Boyle.This training session on better management of the country’s forests comes days after Government had said it is looking to make reforestation a mandatory requirement for loggers and miners applying for concessions, so as to preserve and sustain its forests.This was announced by President David Granger during a World Environment Day 2019 event wherein he emphasised that protecting the environment is an obligation, not an option. He noted that with Guyana being part of the ‘Guiana Shield’, considered the ‘lungs of the world’, it is important to safeguard the country’s forests from harmful activities such as mining and logging.“Mining and logging are two of the principal contributors to deforestation. Small-scale mining alone accounted for about 89 per cent of deforestation over the past three years. So small-scale mining has a large-scale impact on the environment.Deforestation by both mining and logging has scarred our rainforests with craters. These wastelands result in further land degradation of the exposed land. Guyana’s forestry and mining laws will be strengthened to make re-forestation and land reclamation conditional for the approval of mining and logging concessions,” the Head of State had posited.