As the country joins in observance of World Environment Day 2019, the Guyana Government is looking to make reforestation a mandatory requirement for loggers and miners applying for concessions, so as to preserve and sustain its forests.This is according to President David Granger, who emphasised that protecting the environment is an obligation, not an option.President David Granger addressing a gathering at the World Environment Day observance at State House on ThursdayDelivering the feature address at the World Environment Day observance held on Thursday at State House, the President noted that Guyana is proud to be part of the ‘Guiana Shield,’ which is considered to be the ‘lungs of the world’.To this end, he underscored the importance of safeguarding 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 reclamations conditional for the approval of mining and logging concessions,” the Head of State posited.It has been reported that Guyana has been lagging in its reforestation efforts. This assessment was made by former Presidential Advisor Rear Admiral (retired) Gary Best during a lecture series hosted by the University of Guyana back in 2017.“I would say to you that our reforestation efforts are at a minimal. We are not doing enough to (contribute to reforestation), and that is a big climate negative for Guyana. Limited work is being done, and more should be done,” Best had stated.However, the Coalition Government is looking to reverse this in its Green State Development Strategy (GSDS) Vision: 2040. A critical element of the strategy is the sustainable management of natural resources, and one of the goals is the mandatory reforestation of mining sites.Students of Queen’s College perform at the Department of the Environment’s World Environment Day 2019 celebration at State HouseTo this end, the policy recommendations in the GSDS include: to ensure and strengthen sustainable forest management for low emissions development; leverage GFC’s expertise to guide improved forest monitoring and management within other land ownership categories; strengthen the suite of forest management tools, measures and plans, and involve key stakeholders in joint forest resource management, monitoring and research; strengthen community reporting, monitoring and verification (CMRV) programmes of indigenous communities; implement provisions under the Amerindian Act 2006 that mandate Amerindian Village Councils to manage forest resources; advance certified technical and vocational training for effective forest management and monitoring; when forest rehabilitation is necessary because of degradation, then restoring to as near the original value of the forest area is paramount; and continue the monitoring, control and reporting on wildlife trading.In the 2019 Budget, Finance Minister Winston Jordan had said this year will see the advancement of work in both the forestry and mining sectors. In 2019, work on this aspect of extractive sector management will advance for the forestry and mining sectors.The recently updated and approved National Forest Plan and Policy Statement will see a shift in emphasis from primary timber products to value-added downstream goods, as well as ecosystem services, while a clearer vision is being articulated for the mining sector this year, with stakeholder input factored into a ten-year Mineral Policy Framework and Plan.“Our mining and forestry sectors do not exist in isolation. Therefore, a coordinated approach is needed to ensure that both foresters and miners are able to benefit from our natural resources in a responsible manner that minimises negative impacts on the environment,” the Minister had stated.On this note, he posited that by the end of 2019, trained regional coordinators would be placed in all ten administrative regions to facilitate the resolution of conflicts that may arise between and among the mining, forestry and environmental sectors.Additionally, Government has budgeted $279 million to finance the next phase of the forest inventory exercise. The Minister has said that mineral mapping will continue to facilitate more coordinated and sustainable management and utilisation of the forest and mineral resources.The National Forest Policy 2018 seeks to, among other things, promote the rehabilitation and restoration of degraded landscapes through forest plantation development, enrichment planting, and community forestry.The policy strategy looks to develop systems and incentive packages to support reforestation and forest plantation development. According to the document, a public-private sector and community investment collaboration is being looked at, with emphasis on degraded forests, agricultural and mining lands, and mangroves. This will be done through the development and implementation of a National Forest Plantation Strategy.