Fires in the Amazon are occurring more frequently and with greater intensity. But who is really burning the forests?
How to make the sustainability of life the center of debate
Despite decades of lobbying successive governments for full legal recognition of their traditional land rights, the 55-60,000 Amerindians in Guyana still find themselves in one of the most precarious land tenure situations in South America: many communities lack any legal land title whatsoever, while the others can only count on an insecure title which covers just a fraction of their ancestral territory, and which can be revoked unilaterally at any time by the Minister of Amerindian Affairs.
Only available in Spanish Publicación de Censat-Agua Viva en ocasión de la Cumbre Mundial de Johannesburgo. Amazonía: Selva y Bosques diez años después de Río
Inner land in Guyana consists of a 150 kilometre wide tropical rainforest, mostly untouched. However, the official perception since the ‘70s of mining as essential for “development”, and the opening of the country’s economy --with the subsequent promotion of the exploitation of natural resources, especially timber and minerals-- to face the increasing foreign debt and satisfy the conditions of the 1991 structural adjustment programme imposed by the IMF and the World Bank, have paved the way to transnational companies.
Dr Conor Wilson Boyd --president of Weyerhaeuser Forestlands International, a company owning a total of 28 million acres of forest in North America and established in 32 countries-- made a presentation during a meeting organized by the Iwokrama International Rainforest Centre for Rainforest Conservation and Development last October in Georgetown.
Following a recommendation of the Privatisation Unit's Board, the government of Guyana is considering a proposal under which Primegroup Limited and Matthews Associates would take over the Wauna Oil Palm Estate in the north west region of the country, on condition that they establish a local company. Primegroup Ltd. is a major investor in oil palm development in Malaysia, ranked as the first producer in the world.
by Forest Peoples Programme, Philippine Indigenous Peoples Links and the World Rainforest Movement
The opening of Guyana to foreign companies from the mid-1980s has caused destruction in the country’s tropical forests -a rare case of virtually untouched ecosystems until then- and the complete disregard of the Amerindians that have lived in these forests for centuries using their resources in a sustainable way. This process continues to the detriment of Guyana’s forests and indigenous peoples, who are carrying out actions to revert such situation.
Last week Marcus Colchester was in Guyana presenting his new work "Guyana: Fragile Frontier. Loggers, Miners and Forest Peoples", jointly published by WRM and the Latin America Bureau. The book is very comprehensive in its scope, summarizing Guyana's history since the arrival of the European colonizers until the present year and describes the situation of the country after a decade of "development" based upon foreign investment in logging and mining.