Page last updated at 10:06 GMT, Monday, 8 September 2008 11:06 UK

Why the West should put money in the trees

President Bharrat Jagdeo
VIEWPOINT
Bharrat Jagdeo

In 2006, Guyana's President Bharrat Jagdeo outlined an offer to place almost the entirety of Guyana's rainforest under international supervision as part of the world's battle against climate change. In the Green Room this week, President Jagdeo sets out his views on how to reduce the 18% of greenhouse gas emissions caused by tropical deforestation.

Burned rainforest
Currently, rainforests are worth more dead than alive

Imagine a business which invested 80% of its profits in products with the lowest rate of return.

Is this business destined to succeed? Unlikely.

Yet global efforts to combat climate change bear a worrying similarity.

The Kyoto Protocol has resulted in the emergence of a more than US$60bn (34bn) carbon market as the world's main mechanism to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

This is a welcome start. But about 80% of this money goes to countries which cause less than 20% of emissions.

Protecting rainforests is not only an environmental concern but an economic issue that cuts to the core of a nation's development

We will fail future generations unless we address this lack of proportionality.

In early December, we will have a chance to do this when representatives of almost 200 countries gather in Poznan, Poland to continue forging an agreement to succeed the Kyoto Protocol.

As a rainforest country, securing a proportionate response to tropical deforestation is of particular importance to Guyana.

Tropical deforestation contributes about 18% of global greenhouse gas emissions. That is about the same as the total emissions from the US, and more than the entire global transportation sector.

Yet under the Kyoto Protocol, it remains more valuable to cut forests down than to leave them standing.

Economic question

If we are to solve this problem, we need to first accept a fundamental point.

Legal deforestation takes place because forest communities and countries can earn money and create jobs by selling trees and clearing land for agriculture.

Logging lorry
Deforestation, legal or illegal, removes the "lungs of the planet"

These are legitimate objectives for citizens and governments to pursue - particularly because most rainforest countries are among the poorest in the world.

By contrast, the global economy does not value the services that forests provide when trees are kept alive, including the avoidance of greenhouse gas emissions.

Correcting this market failure will require recognising that protecting rainforests is not only an environmental concern but an economic issue that cuts to the core of a nation's development.

It therefore needs sustained attention from the highest levels of governments.

Partners in progress

I was my country's minister of finance when the Kyoto Protocol was agreed, and I paid very little attention to it.

This was a mistake; and I advise today's ministers of finance, prime ministers and presidents to ensure that they give climate change and deforestation a greater priority than I did.

Poverty note on door of No 10 Downing St
The British Government took the global lead on securing debt relief for countries such as mine

As well as national leadership, we need international partnership. No country can go it alone.

We need the active involvement of governments, businesses, non-governmental organisations and conscientious people everywhere, to advocate for action and to devise realistic solutions.

In Guyana, we are ready to play our part, and to provide a model for other rainforest countries to share.

Our deforestation rate is one of the lowest in the world and we want it to stay that way.

However, we also face considerable development challenges. We need better schools and hospitals, more jobs and economic opportunities, and to meet all the other economic and social demands of Guyana's people.

Poverty indicator

I frequently receive proposals from investors to convert our forest into land for agriculture or biofuels.

Agreeing to these would be a quick way to meet the development challenges we face.

But in Guyana, we are acutely conscious of climate change.

Most of our population and productive land are below sea level and suffering from changing weather patterns.

In 2005, floods caused economic damage equivalent to 60% of our GDP.

We recognise that as a nation where over 80% of our surface area is tropical rainforest, we have an obligation to our own people and the wider world to seek to preserve it.

Water between forested areas
The conservancy east of Georgetown supplies water for irrigation

This is why in 2006, I suggested that the UK and Guyana could work together to identify bold rainforest solutions that could be used as models for the world.

For our part, we are willing to place almost our entire rainforest - which is larger than England - under internationally verified supervision if the right economic incentives are created.

This does not mean sacrificing sovereignty over our forest or restricting the development aspirations of our people. It simply means allowing globally recognised supervision to verify that activities within the forest are sustainable.

At the UN climate meeting in Poznan, I will be outlining our vision in greater detail, and I hope that many British people will support our efforts.

This hope stems from my experience at the 1998 meeting of the G8 in Birmingham, when I joined British NGOs to lobby for debt relief.

Thanks to the efforts of these NGOs and thousands of individuals from across the UK, the British government took the global lead on securing debt relief for countries such as mine.

This has transformed the lives and livelihoods of millions.

With climate change and deforestation, the prize is greater still.

I hope that the months and years ahead will see us renew our partnership.

And I believe that this can be our contribution to winning the battle against our generation's defining challenge.

Bharrat Jagdeo is President of Guyana

UK readers can hear more about Mr Jagdeo's proposals on rainforest protection, and debate and discussion of the issues involved, in this week's edition of Panorama, broadcast on BBC One at 2030 BST

The Green Room is a series of opinion articles on environmental issues running weekly on the BBC News website


Do you agree with President Jagdeo? Does forest protection need a higher priority in moves to curb climate change? Should western governments reward poorer countries for preserving their forests? Does this compromise their sovereignty? Or are poorer nations just trying to get cash for "business as usual"?

Not only is it climate change that we should be worrying about, but preservation of species. Every species wiped out brings the possiblility of major ecosystem change, and thus other species can suffer. We need to look at both major points before people can realise that rainforest preservation is of critial importance. we can, and therefor must do something before theres no going back.
Martyn Wood, stroud

It is long overdue that some World body (such as the World Bank and UN) set a realistic carbon sequestration price based on the annual aggregate carbon dioxide absorbed by the rainforest, then pay that money to countries to help preserve the rainforests. This is the only way to preserve the rainforest, prevent 'big' business from destroying it and helping fight global warming, preserve the ecology, environment and culture of these critical natural wonders.
Trevor Williams, GreenMuze, Saltspring Island, Canada

Fantastic idea. Lets hope the Government is more courageous than usual and supports Guyana in this. It's about time they took the lead on something.
John, London

Now that President Jagdeo is asking for proposal to protect his rainforest.Is he aware of the magnitude of logging being done by BARAMA ? And the destruction to the rainforest? What about all the rare species of raw logs that are being exported illegally ?? I'm sure he is aware after all he is the president.Get your house in order first Mr.President before asking for International funding to protect your rainforest.
Burton, Ontario,Canada

I am no foremost authority on climate change, but I did learn a thing or two as a student of the environment and as a practicing environmentalist. For this reason, coupled with the opportunity I had of discussing his proposal with him publicly, I agree with some lingering skepticism with President Jagdeo's proposal of setting aside 80% of Guyana's natural rain forest for the protect of the planet. Its importance comes at a juncture in our history when we so drastically need to reinvent the way we utilize the earth's natural forest resources. Reversing global warming is the number issue of this generation and the President's proposal is a welcome breath of fresh air, from an administration that seems at times to be suffering from ostrich syndrome. So while we have this opportunity of persuading the rest of the world to give us financial incentives to protect our section of the lungs of the earth, we need not waste this opportunity on political pandering and partisan politics. What we should be engaged in, is constantly pressuring the government to be more transparent with this proposal. Transparency will calm all fears of using this as political leverage and financial compensation for those involve in this process. With this magnitude proposal, Guyanese should be more concern with issues of monitoring, sustainability, and transparency. Questions that are still unanswered are those related to future government plans for municipality expansion beyond the low coastal regions as a direct result of future growth prospects and the present threat of sea level rise in this region (acknowledging that it will take decades to reverse the effects of global warming after initiatives of forest protection and other practices are implemented) , smart growth initiatives, and whether the financial gains from this proposal will be used in this regard?
Christopher A. Watson, Newark, New Jersey

Substantial damage has been done to the rainforest by Asian loggers & illegal gold miners for over a decade.President Jagdeo is fully aware about this, why only now is he trying to save the rainforest. Asian companies have concession to massive areas in the rainforest also more gold mining companies are getting approval to do exploration & soon to start mining operations. It is a pity to see the president asking for International help to preserve the rainforest after so much damage has been done without doing nothing..The OMAI spill was a typical example.Massive cover up was done after the spill.OMAI has continue their operation after the spill & is looking to do more mining.
kemraj, East Bank,Guyana

Why has the British Government have had this generous offer from President Jagdeo for 2 years, and not jumped at the opportunity? It would show the rest of the world that Britain can take positive action on confronting global warming. Guyana benefits by getting the development aid it needs, biodiversity of the forest is preserved and indigenous tribes have their lands protected. This is not an offer that will present its self again, so its time for action and leadership by the British Government please.

Colin Griffiths, Berkshire, UK

SOLUTION TO THE PROBLEM, READ TO THE BOTTOM AND I WILL EXPLAIN. I have lobbied a number of key conservation charities including GreenPeace, Friends of the Earth, the RSPB and the Wildlife Trusts about this issue and all of them said that they couldn't help, (surprisinlgy though they will take my membership money and volunteer time). What I have found since this though is that in the UK there is an Early Day Motion being raised in parliament about this proposal from Guyana and if enough local MP's support this then the liklihood of it happening are greatly increased. Simply all you have to do is email your local MP and ask them to sign early day motion 893, then tell all your friends and family to do this as well and with enough letters from across the country a huge number of MP's will sign up and the motion should be passed. THERE IS NO NEED TO FEEL POWERLESS IF WE ALL TAKE THIS SIMPLE ACTION WE CAN HELP PRESERVE THE RAINFORESTS OF GUYANA, WE CAN HELP SO LETS DO IT!!!
Adam Taylor, Tiptree, Essex, England

It's great to see someone actually trying to take meaningful steps to address the problems of climate change and biodiversity loss- preserving forests is not just about carbon sequestration! Hopefully other countries will now follow on- the international community should co-operate to facilitate this wherever possible. It's nice to have some good news regarding this depressing topic...!
Sarah, Oxford

I believe this is the very reason for the historical deplection of rainforest world wide, no monetary incentives to protect. The heart of the matter is that the countries that have the rainforests are the poorest, hence what is in it for them to preserve their natural splendours? However, it does seem that locally, there may be evidence that Pres Jagdeo needs to do a better job at home. It could be that he has found himself in a tough position due to prior committments...and this may be his way to avoid such future damaging committments. How do we make it profitable to preserve rainforests??? One idea is to make the rainforests available for tourism in a sustainable way. Make the rainforest a great product, market it, make it one of the wonders of the world! Make it the place to visit before you die...shucks, it may even keep you alive.:)
Raj, Florida, USA

We have been pushing Jagdeo's proposal for 2 years now (http://www.gobeithio.org select the link called "The Big Idea"). From experience, unresolved detail is being allowed to smokescreen the most obvious way to preserve the West's standard of living, and ensure Guyana remains a viable nation in the not too distant future. The last few years have shown that West European business is ready to be convinced that they should help, whilst the ecological purists need to understand that "economic solution" are not dirty words. Nice to see Dr Thomas from Iwokrama commenting here - they are doing wonderful work, and their Phase Two is being monitored by conservationsists from all over the world.
Gareth Roberts, Oxford

Lead on, please!
Clive Hambler, Oxford, UK

To Jason, Baltimore, MD: Your comment "I do not believe carbon dioxide is a problem - it is not toxic and it does not cause appreciable warming." is amazing. This kind of ignorance and reluctance to accept the situation is probably the main cause of global warming, more to the point, the main reason that global warming has been allowed to progress to it's current levels. Global warming is not new and has been on our radar for many years but has somehow been downgraded as being the fantasy of fanatic, hippy scientists. The snail-paced rate of realisation that the we can and need to do something about it is because of people like you. It is not fair to leave our pollution in the hands of poverty stricken nations to mop up, we all have a responsibility to clean up our own mess. Turning your back on it and saying that it is not a problem is not only arrogant, it is dangerously infectious for money grabbing, forest destroying multinationals who are happy to confirm your opinions for the sake of a bit more profit. Wake up and clean up!
Deborah, Luxembourg

Like everything else... we're to busy just talking about it. It's a fantastic oportunity.
Adam Cross, Sheffield

As the issues of global warming and global consciousness continue to gain popularity in mainstream cultures then will we see a greater demand for rain forest preservation? Regardless, this has been past due for sometime. Furthermore, in this day and age it is time to end deforestation, in order to preserve what is left of the natural world. Humanity has already raped the land of much of its worth, it is time humanity pay off its tab to mother nature, and carbon taxes that provide fiscal relief to poverty stricken rain forest nations is a start. This seems peculiar to some; they don't seem to understand that saving the natural state of wilderness is worthwhile in a divine sense, in a right with the universe sense, a Zen sense if you will. Fortunately, they do understand the dollars and cents of land management, and this is why providing local farmers and ranchers with land subsidies to preserve the natural environment will inevitably have a positive impact upon the entirety of the global effort to reach homeostasis.
Spencer Wignall, Urbandale, Iowa, United States

The battle against global warming should be fought straight out instead of timidly with measured response. Thinking action later on will suffice exposes the world to even greater danger that tipping points beyond polar melting will cascade out of control. By the end of the century wealth will have a new meaning and there won't be a person alive that won't wish more had been done. The President of Guyana is right on in his evaluation of the importance of trying to protect his nation's forests and that his people along with everyone else stand to benefit if things work out.
Dale Lanan, Longmont, Colorado, USA

Sadly, Guyana is no reference case, because it is a relatively large country for its tiny population, and it is relatively wealthy. The real challenge is to find solutions for poor countries with large populations who can barely make ends meet. Countries like the Democratic Republic of Congo. Moreover, I also wonder whether this isn't yet another phase of imperialism. First you have the colonizer who exploits the local resources, then you have the post-colonial local elites and the multinationals, and now you have the climate change crowd and so-called green leaders. These schemes to slow down deforestation are top-down, bureaucratic and capitalist schemes that commodify nature, and that do not take into account the real desires of local people. Finally, on another, purely economic note: research shows that avoiding deforestation is the least cost-effective option of all strategies to fight climate change. Biofuels and efficiency improvements are the most cost-effective. So unless other ecosystem services and biodiversity as such are valued, schemes aimed at merely selling the carbon in the trees to the highest bidder, won't be competitive.
Jacco Vangelder, Rotterdam, Netherlands

This seems a very good idea, well thought out and presented. For India especially, this may prove to be a tool to put an end to the land mafia, poaching etc.
K.R.Parthasarathy, Chennai, India

All first world Governments should Levie their Taxpayers 1.00 Pound, or $2.00 each year when they pay their taxes. No arguments! No excuces! With 8 Billion People in total in the world, Say 2 Billion First world Taxpayers,this should raise UK Pounds 2,000, 000,000 which could help support some country which preserved its Rain Forests. Proved by Govternment Legistration and By annual Satelite photographs + field Inspections. The money would have to be administered by a new N.G.O. Not the E.U. or U.N. which have too many overheads and dont balance their accounts at the end of the year. Everything should be on line,Minutes of all meetings, Countries recieving money, satelite photos ,accounts etc. All write to your MP to support your Govt.to start this off.
Roger G SENIOR, Auckland NEW ZEALAND

The people of Guyana are fortunate to have a leader like President Jagaedo. If such visionaries were leading the powerful nations of the world, we might have a chance to remedy the global crises that undermine our children's future. Godspeed, Barack Obama.
Eric Helmy, Portland, Oregon

Kudos to president Jagdeo for his environmental concern and his efforts to preserve Guyana's priceless forests. Selling carbon credits to industrial countries is an excellent idea. However, in addition to reducing carbon emissions, we urgently need to remove megatons of carbon from the atmosphere to prevent a climate catastrophe that is fast approaching in an unimaginably global scale. I suggest that every time a large tree is cut, four or five tree seedlings be planted, at such a rate that twenty years later the original seedlings have matured and are cut down, and that this cycle be repeated in the same sector of the forest plantation. It sounds counterintuitive, but there are scientific reasons for this program:

1) Young trees grow and sequester carbon much faster than fully mature trees, which grow very slowly. Old trees also die, fall down, and decompose, thus releasing a large fraction of their carbon back into the atmosphere.

2) Most of the timber from mature trees is used for housing and furniture, which sequesters carbon for twenty to a hundred years, and charcoal which can be used to dramatically improve agricultural soil (terra preta), and is sequestered forever.

3) The timber and sustainable gardening would be a source of income and food for the locals.

4) However, a little prosperity would result in a marked growth in population, which in turn would result in greater exploitation of the forest. I suggest this program presents a unique opportunity to link community development startup money, technology, and market access to a strong initiative to universal education, particularly for all women, and family planning services, with the explicit goal to stabilize or reduce local population and human pressure on the environment. How many other incentive opportunities exist, and will we have ever again, to voluntarily reduce human populations on earth? Guyana and other rainforest countries would get carbon credit money and other benefits not only for preserving their most ecologically-valuable forests, but also for actively removing atmospheric carbon dioxide in sustainable forestry plantations and organic forest gardening.
Frank Michael, Summertown TN USA

Guyana is one of the poorest countries in the world that is full of natural resources and myopic politicians, and President Jagdeo now desperately needs a long-term economic vision to lift Guyana out of poverty. He needs to awaken out of wonderland, and come up with viable resolutions for Guyana's long-term development rather than stretching out his hand to pursue the illusion of saving the rain forest. I still see large scale sophisticated logging in the USA and Canada whose natural recourses are enormous. The idea of buying into the climate change fallacy and leaving Guyana underdeveloped seems treacherous to me.

Gary Jackman, Fords New Jersey USA

I think this is a wonderful gesture on the part of our President to bring attention to possible solutions for how tropical forests can be effectively managed for conservation and sustainable use and how countries like Guyana, with massive, intact forest resources can gain tangible benefits from all the ongoing global discussions and mechanisms. We must put people first in the equation as it is people that at the end of the day that affect how our forests and other natural resources are treated. People in most tropical forest areas are very dependent on these very resources. So how can we merge the issue of conservation and sustainable use. In my opinion these two issues must go hand in hand. And Guyana is already leading the way with one such concept that looks at integrating conservation and sustainable use for environmental, social and economic benefits through the Iwokrama International Centre for Rain Forest Conservation and Development-www.iwokrama.org Dr Raquel Thomas, Guyana
Dr Raquel Thomas, Guyana

The President of a small country like Guyana seems to have a better vision of future and for his country than big polluting counties like U.S, China, India etc. Hats of to him and I agree 200% with his views. One can only hope many other world leaders will step forward to address the critical global warming situation.
Sid, Delhi, India

I think protecing ecosystems with a view to curbing climate change is indeed GLOBAL PUBLIC GOODS, therefore it needs the international community as a whole to make concerted efforts. In this regard, on country can make it alone. The developed countries, speaking historically, being the main cause of global warming, must meet their obligations. ? LI Ke Jie, Beijing, China.
LI Ke Jie , Beijing, China.

The lack of affirmative action on climate change can largely be blamed on weak governments. Tough decisions on energy, conservation, transportation and consumption are constantly postponed, ignored and diluted. We need many more heads of state like President Jagdeo to put their foot down and say "Yes, we must act now".
Mike, Hong Kong

In fact many people don't know that their building, funitures, stionery and many other goods comes from the trees. The only things they could have said, that every tree cut down for human uses should be replants. Even farmers cut trees down so that their animals and crops will be planted. Even some people are happy when they recieves cheque but they don't know that cheque are written on paper that come from products of tree.
David, Hobart

I think what president Jagdeo has said we should work towards that,so we can make this world a brtter place.
shariff khan , new york usa

as a person born in guyana i hope that this is a politcian who speaks the truth..guyana has had its share of coruption many times over and the rich get richer ...let us hope this time some one thinks about the people and the country
r j nunes, west africa

One little thing you left out, Mr. Jagdeo! How much? Ha ha....
Thomas Goodey, Cuxton-upon-Medway, Kent, ENGLAND

I agree with President Jagdeo. Guyana should be compensated for KEEPING THE RAINFOREST as is, without further depletions. Free Market principles of DEMAND and SUPPLY, should be used to determine a reasonable monetary compensation to Guyana. There is global trading for Coffee, Sugar, Rice, Gold, Platinum, Silver, Oil, et al, and RAINFOREST should be included. My wife Dr. Maryann and I, recently lived in the Brazilian Amazon for a week, and saw first hand the need for URGENT PRESERVATIONS.
Professor Dr. Shamir Andrew Ally, Pennsylvania, USA

Mr.Jagdeo ought to be complimented for his vision (the future health of the planet), and foresight (taking ownership of forests that serve not only as a carbon sink, but also to regenerate lifesaving oxygen).
roop, Toronto, Canada

In Brazil, starting recently, all rural properties must have 20% of it's area as forest. It's called "Reserva Legal". Without that reserve the farm can't receive financing, sell the farm, etc. If the US and Europe pass a similar law, the burden of mantaining the "lungs" is equaly divided. Then the countries that pollute more than it's forests permit, can pay for Third World countries for maintaining the Rain Forests. The more you pollute, the more you pay those countries to keep their forests.
Adolpho Gordo, Coral Gables, Florida - USA

This is phenomenally good news at a time of heart wrenching destruction of the last frontiers of forests on our planet, particularly with rich biodiversity. Its value will only increase profoundly as future generations will lament the present day desecration of rainforests. May Brazil, Peru, Congo and PNG to name a few follow suit.
Peter MacDonald, Wellington, NZ

How about using the money from the various proposed Carbon emissions taxes to fund programs like this in Guyana and other countries? It makes sense to make the people who do the polluting pay for the people who have the power to counter it. I know big business would never go in for that, but we can dream can't we?
Timothy Day, Jeonju, South Korea

More carbon dioxyde = greener forests (it is their food). Why does everyone blatantly ignore this basic fact? Preventing deforestation is useful for different reasons.
Jack. P, Toronto, Canada

I am happy to say that hear in Serbia, the forests are growing. O do we don`t have rainforests, but still everybody must help! There is a saying hear it gos like this ``WHERE EVER YOU SEE A FREE PLACE YOU PLANT A TREE`` or how it`s sounds in Serbian "Gde god na?e zgodno mesto tu drvo posadi". You think what you should do to help.
Igor Marinkovic, Belgrade, Serbia

This is a very bold and forward looking statement and offer from Guyana's President Mr. Bharat Jagdeo. Western countries, being the biggest consumer, should do their part. Just reduce the consumption a little, and results will be fantastic.
Ashok Bhagat, Richmond, USA

Unfortunately for Guyana's beleaguered rainforests, President Jagdeo's act has gone on too long. President Jagdeo is now practised at international grandstanding about ceding Guyana's rainforests in a noble global cause. The reality is that since the late 1980s the political administrations of Guyana have parceled out those forests to loggers and miners. President Jagdeo, who is also the Minister of Forests, has agreed recently to rolling over time-expired logging concessions for more years of almost uncontrolled logging and export of unprocessed logs, entirely contrary to national policies and without attempting to raise forest values by open tendering of the concessions; such transparent process has been set aside by the President or his aides. The only pristine rainforests are those which are simply inaccessible because of steep topography or the cost of extraction and transport to the coast.

The loggers and miners have taken advantage of a corrupt regime, (Guyana ranked with seven others at 123 of the 179 countries on Transparency International's Corruption Perception Index in 2007 - and high international commodity prices, to extract and export the Guiana Shield's prime dark and heavy timbers and its gold and diamonds, leaving in its wake degraded timber stands and landscapes and rivers ruined by mining (see guyanaforests.blogspot.com). As for Mr Jagdeo "putting a dollar value on standing forests", since he was elected President in 1999, 4 Asian loggers have extended and consolidated their legal and illegal hold on over half of the allocated forests, while benefiting from secret Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) agreements.

Guyana does not need to hold out a begging bowl to international donors for its unmanaged standing forests. The President, the Minister of Forests, could be "champion of the rain forest" but he would need to apply Guyana's own laws and policies and procedures, thoroughly and equitably, in place of the past two decades of corrupt mis-use and abuse. Unfortunately trees can only stand mutely in the midst of the ravaged landscapes. Else they too would vote with their feet, as half of Mr Jagdeo's citizenry has done through emigration since 1980.
Mahadeo Kowlessar, Atlanta, Georgia, USA

A bold and interesting initiative. I just hope that Guyana's indigenous (Amerindian) people do not get forgotten in the whole affair. They have ancestral land rights to much of Guyana's forest interior that have not yet been recognised by the government, and should participate in decisions about what happens to their forest and its management. Like anyone they are driven by economic necessity, but secure land rights give them a vested interest in the future of the forests more than anyone else. Another part of the equation is Guyana's growing mining and fledgling petroleum industry. Whilst the trees remain standing from any overflight or satellite image of Guyana you can see the serious silting of rivers from mining, even if you can't see the heavy metals building up in the food chain. It would be no good having a standing forest with dead rivers and poisoned fish, and all the consequencial health and social problems for the forgotten people of Guyana's interior. They want development too, but their own kind of development on their own terms.
Gregor, Iquitos, Peru

There is no place like the Amazon jungle. Guyana has wasted its resources for a very long time and continues to pursue this course freely.Take a look at how much fresh water is sent into the river daily. That water can be saved and process cheaply for drinking and recreational reasons.Jagdeo,visit Singapore.The filthy clogged up waste canals called trenches should be made over.The race track behind the airport should be chopped up and used to create concrete blocks and create Sussex and Princess sts canals into sloping design canals to clean the city.Forget about car racing.Guyana has no priority;no ideas to help themselves.It is time they sit down and ask candidly,where do we go from here.Jagdeo should think about ideas that do not cost an arm and a leg.He is a lost man.
cm john, tampa fl

Leadership from my native land! Let's get this model from the Guyanese President working to cure the ills of mankind. It is solution for 21st century and all those to come if we are to survive and live in harmony with each other and the other species on this planet of ours. It is only one we have so far. Guyana today, Brazil tomorrow. Let's get this going and give the man the Nobel for saving us all.
Greg Rafeson, Toronto, Canada

Western countries have cleared forests for centuries for economic gain, isn't it time that the west pays to preserve what is left. Lets face it, we probably spend billions on our lawns and gardens. Let us preserve the biggest gardens in the world.
Peter Grannetia, Simpson Bay, St.Maarten Netherlands Antilles

This topic, as well as the fact that it is being discussed, is monumental to our global society. Whether anything is done right now about this particular situation is irrelevant. What is relevant is that people...humans everywhere... need to continue to talk about this issue. Pressure the right people to do something about the problem. That way it becomes a major concern to all politicians and they are forced to do something about it.
Ryan , Fargo, North Dakota United States

There's one problem that President Jagdeo omits to mention - everybody's tired of hearing about rainforest deforestation. It's been going on for so long that we've become desensitised to it and the media has understandably lost interest too. That doesn't mean it's any less of a problem. President Jagdeo is right - if we're serious about combating climate change, stopping rainforest deforestation needs to be back at the top of the agenda.
Jonathan Melhuish, London, England

The Guyana government allocated a huge tract of forest to the Iwokrama project, and now offers other forest areas to the British government, but surely those forests REALLY belong to the Amerindian tribes who inhabite them, not to the coastal political elite?
Mikael Grut, London, England

President Jagdeo mentions partnership between the UK and Guyana. Tropical hardwoods are fast growing and an increasingly valuable commodity. Why not establish well managed plantations on land that has already(unfortunately) been cleared? Thinning out of the trees (and therefore the first harvest of usable wood)would be possible in about 7 years and produce a very healthy return on capital. Wildlife would also return so that the plantations would double as sanctuaries attracting tourists. Mature trees could be harvested circumspectly after 20 years so that the forest as a whole remained and there would be continuous replanting(in nature mature trees are always falling and being naturally replaced). Marketed right in the UK(allowing individuals to invest in as little as one tree) this could be a very popular investment. I could just about afford to invest in one tree for myself and one each for my daughters and think how absolutely GREEN! we'd feel. President Jagdeo, I implore you, bring it on!
Simon Morrison, Truro

Agree 100% The economical pressure is what kills the rainforest, give the owners money to protect it and they will. As always money rules unfortunately, but it gives a solution here. If you can simply sell carbon credits for protecting the forest or receive even more for replanting already lost forest...just imagine suddenly freedy landowners love their forest
Carlos, Salvador/Brazil

Its quite evident that market consumption of rainforests, doesnt, or shouldnt outweigh things like climate change. But at the same time its important that alternatives to business be acknowledged and enacted. People still need an economy in there country, but what kind of economy could a nation have, that isnt completely harmful to the environment? Thats what governments should focus on, not how to increase profit margins for there current industries.
Juan Ruiz, Madison WI, USA

Obviously, we do not have much time for debate. It's time to act and make the right decision. Forest protection from all source of pressure, legal and illegal, should be a our priority. This priority goes together with agricultural reform and economical reforms. It should go with a radical change in our consumption and production patterns.
Edouard, Edinburgh

I strogly agree with and welcome the idea of President Jagdeo. Tropical forests need to be protected (managed)as they are both, a major source of GHG, and a sink when managed.A market based mechanism is needed to pay the services they are renedering to the rest of the world. How long "the rest of the world" can be a "free rider"? I have seen in Nepal and Vietnam, people are living in a house made of mud, bamboo and thatch grasses, but they are protecting there forest as "Community Forest". Shouldn't we payfor their enormous contribution to minimize the effects of climate change?
Prem Raj Neupane, Village- Devnagar, Chitawan, Nepal

The goods and services from tropical forests are worth between US$ 25 and 50 per ha per year. If developed countries are serious about preserving such forests, then they should put their money where their mounth is. There are about 15 million ha of forests in Guyana. If all of it is put umder protection, this would mean an annual payment of US$ 375 to 750 million and of course many US$ billions for the world's tropical forests: are we up to it?
Keith Openshaw, Vienna, VA. USA

I hope our government considers this offer favourably, for my son (8 yrs old)growing up what an example it would set. I want him to grow up with genuine people who care and do something for the long term not just a quick buck. Mr Brown please accept the offer now.
andy ling, ipswich uk

If I travel from Hastings to Glasgow or around France or Spain or the US, I will undoubtedly pay some toll for the benefit of using the road. It's down to value, we value getting around hopefully quickly and efficiently. We value our health and well being? Do we yet see the value of our Forests? The true value of the world's Rain Forests are still relatively unknown but clearly their existence is integral to all of our lives and to many other lives other than humans. China wanted clear skies and clean air for their Olympics, in the long term we should all want clear skies, clean air, a frozen north and south pole. Maybe the quiet guardians of our planet will help unite us inspite of our past.
djames, US

More troubling is the fact that our esteemed American President GWB refused to sign the Kyoto protocols, making Jagdeo's effort, a drop in the proverbial bucket.
William Luther, Trenton, NJ USA

I would urge our Government to agree to paying carbon credits to Guyana to protect it from deforestation. It is well known that the biggest cause of co2 emissions is rainforest clearance; also, as was evidenced in the recent television broadcast of Land of the Jaguar, the Guyanan forest is pristine home to thousands of species, many clearly not yet known. This is some of the most valuable land on the planet. I would ask Gordon Brown and the Labour party to do something that will bring approbation from the country. Please agree to this deal to preserve Guyana's rainforest. It is the best value for money on offer today.
Jane Altounyan, Bournemouth, United Kingdom

This sounds to a very viable proposal but it may be doomed to failure because there is no corporate greed involved and that is what drives lobby groups etc to make things happen. The carbon tax credit is a joke compared to some other alternatives, and it is going to evolve into a commercial venture with large Corp reaping the benefits with little effective action. We wring our hands is despair when the reports are out about the large tracts of forest lost in Brazil to deforestation so here is a chance to do something about a precious disappearing asset. But will we do something about it? Hmmm.....
Marvin Martin, Toronto, Canada

President Jagdeo should put his country in order before asking for help to preserve his forest. Lot of destruction is being done to the rainforest & rivers by foreign companies in the mining & logging industry. These big foreign companies will continue to exploit the natural resources from Guyana sooner than later. OMAI GOLD MINES & BARAMA are typical examples.
abdool, Essequibo,Guyana

I salute President Bharrat Jagdeo for his commitment and vision. And I wish rest of our political and business leaders are sane enough to implement his proposals, before it's too late...
Pratik Patil, Mumbai, India

I believe that protecting the rainforest is a good idea; one has to see the forest as not only reducing the greenhouse effect but also as a home for wildlife and the indigenous people. The Western governments play a great role in the climate changing that we are having now. Why not let them help in saving the future generation.
Abeeda Gaffar, Georgetown Guyana

Why not spend British money on British projects to restore rainforests in the British Isles? There used to be an great Atlantic rainforest stretching from Ireland to Scotland. There are still some remnants, there is room for trees and mostly, there are people willing to plants trees.
Yves, Brussels, Belgium

While I agree with Mr. Jagdeo's proposal as a long term strategy, I think in the short-term both Guyana and the international community need to focus on the current destruction to Guyana's forest by multinationals such as Barama (Chinese company). A lot has been written on this before but little action seems to have been taken. In addition, many mining operations are also guilty of destroying pristine forestry resources as well poluting waterways. The Omai spill was a classic example of the destruction and cover-ups.
Thomas Roots, Essequibo Coast, Guyana

It is important to save & preserve the rain forest before it is lost forever to logging.However there are plenty of Indiscriminate logging by foreign companies in Guyana,such as BARAMA.The government should pay more attention as to what is going on with BARAMA & the rainforest.
Terrence, Georgetown,Guyana.

this is the great step to ward the cleaning of green house gases
roshan soomro, pakistan

I'd like to understand more about how to structure economic incentives to help countries with rain forests. What, specifically, is the appropriate source of funding to preserve these vital resources? How should we decide who should pay these countries and how much? Since we're all fond of breathing, don't all humans owe some debt to the guardians of the planet's rain forests? And how do we best penalize those responsible for polluting the planet while simultaneously getting funds to countries to preserve the planet's "lungs" ? Has anyone read anything useful on the economics of this?
Lauren Meredith, San Francisco USA

It has long been known that the Rain Forests are the lungs of the world, instead of cutting all these trees down, and causing massive soil erosion, changing the wind patterns etc, we should spend tne needed ammount of money to rebuild these forests and start letting the trees themselves clear the CO2 from the air.

Come on world, get planting.
Alan MacLellan, Deep River, Ontario, Canada

President Bharrat Jagdeo has come up with a splendidly straightforward idea.

If the income from Guyanese forest is to be foregone for the sake of the rest of the world then that country should be recompensed so that it can build and maintain its hospitals and roads etc. Say that is worth $US12/ acre/year of Forest in royalties foregone then it is a simple exercise to work out what is to be saved according to the total amount of recompense offered.

However, it is not a one way deal. The Forests saved from harvesting must be maintained in a secure way against the many pressures organised and disorganised, legal and illegal that would destroy them. For that you might add another $US12/acre/yr. Is the President able to make a binding contract to protect the Forests, I wonder?

Probably the easiest thing to do is monitor the result. Even the man in the street can see what the satellites take pictures of these days.

Demand for wood from Asia will push up the value of timber in these Forests. A long sighted investor in keeping the Guyanese Forests might consider a deal now is sensible when commodity prices must inevitable rise with the global population growth.


Donald Thompson, Lyndhurst UK

The protection of the world's rainforest is key as we go forward in the future. Mr. Jagdeo outlined some key points which needs to be taken into consideration and applied.
Muniram Kemraj, Mississauga, Canada

Of course we should change the way we hold and maintain our forests. Trees are the reason homo sapiens sapiens evolved into modern humans, they shelter all living things, and they literally blanket the planet in a healing, renewing, and protective canopy, giving the earth healthy lungs. It will be one of the major accomplishments of the human species to not only halt the destruction of our beautiful and vital forests, but to restore, renew, and cultivate them. In so doing, we will change our worldview into one that has a deep and abiding respect for all life, and especially the trees.
James, San Francisco, USA

It's a great comfort to read Mr. Jagdeo's words here. If other presidents or PMs of countries which contain rainforest would face the issue like he has done, we could see some real progress toward eliminating deforestation and reducing carbon emissions. An unfortunate reality is that, if these other countries don't get on board with this plan, saving only Guyana's rainforests probably won't do much to address the larger issues and prevent potentially catastrophic climate change.
Justin Vermillion, Bloomington, Indiana, USA

Preserving rain forests is obviously a good thing, they are a part of the planet's natural heritage and are of unparalleled beauty. It's just a shame that they have to be saved in the name of the rather sinister scam known as 'climate change' (formerly referred to as 'global warming' until it became impossible to maintain the preposterous lie that the planet was getting warmer). To believe that human CO2 emissions are radically changing the climate of the planet is not only ridiculous and arrogant, but also plays into the hands of the elite, who are all too willing to impose a new global form of global taxation.
Alex, Yorkshire

It's easy for us to say "of course we should save the rainforest!" since none of us live there. The point of the President's speech is that we urgently need to find ways of sustainable opportunity and development for people who live in those areas so that they won't be tempted to sell off their forests for lumber or farm land.
Justin Mingo, New York City, USA

I do not believe carbon dioxide is a problem - it is not toxic and it does not cause appreciable warming. In fact the contention that co2 is the cause of our problems is not yet settled - it is only models that tell us so - which to date have a lousy prediction record. But we must still protect these forests because of the biodiversity that will be lost if we do not protect them. We must address the economic factors (food) causing deforestation. These means more efficient and productive methods and technology to create higher output per acre.
Jason, Baltimore, MD

A very interesting proposition. I would like to hear the proposed mecanism in grater detail. Even so why not go a step furthur and place the entire forests and natural reserves under international protection a bit like the water masses of the world...


Mihai Ovidiu Bica, Alba Iulia, Romania

The Forest Stewardship Council works. If a similar model can be used to protect Guyana's rainforests in a sustainable way, it will benefit not only the world in terms of reducing climate change, it will also greatly benefit the people of Guyana. President Bharrat Jagdeo is showing the kind of leadership that many countries desperately need (and not only in the developing world)
Chris B, Vancouver

WOW! Is President Jagdeo one of kind? Putting people before profit is a rarity. Population control and deforestation need to be at the top of everybody's agenda.
Emma Cahill, Dublin, Ireland

It is perhaps needless to say that Mr Jagdeo has acted far more wisely compared to the majority of the politicians in the world. His vision is certainly a most welcome one and one that makes us rediscover faith in the statesmen of the international society.

However, I am pretty sceptical if his lead will be followed by others across the globe. The power is still with the people who would rather destroy the rainforests for quick profits rather than preserving them for long term benefit.

Let us see if the UK and the Guyana governments can set an example for the rest of the world to emulate.


Abhik Chakraborty, Beppu, Oita, Japan

Is it the begin of a new colonial era?

Is Guyana's President Bharrat Jagdeo giving away Guyana's children future land to "help" fight climate change?

Are the poor countries first on the line to pay for rich countries emissions?

First fight the climate change, then loggers, drug dealers, a leftlist president, etc.

President Bharat Jagdeo seems to have forgotten what colonialism was about. Rich country's seems always willing to "help" or "free" countries with rich natural resources.

Terrible to see that even a BBC documentary is part of this PR initiative, that is selling a "green colonialism".


Saulo Barbosa, Manchester UK

I have 18 trees in my yard; Can I get paid to not cut them down? Preserving the rain forest is vital, but this sounds more like a scheme to line one south American politician's pockets.
r e brining, monticello, in. usa

Fantastic idea we use the money we are spending on reducing emission to helping keep a forest alive. Which gets rid of emission the proper way?
Rob Burman, Worksop England

I believe that we should keep as much of the rainforest as possible.....Urban development is creating its own problems with more and more flooding of major towns and cities. The BBC's programme lost land of the Jaguar should be more than enough proof that we still have parts of this world left to investigate and wildlife to find and protect. Pay the relevant countries to protect our world by stopping logging and preserving the rainforest, so that our future generations can have a world worth living in.
Miss L Hurley, Belfast

I hope to believe there will be as much action and encouragement in this regard between both parties. Certainly the priority needs to be escalated far quicker than it has been.
Edwin Pereira, London, England (United Kingdom)

I HAVE VISITED MANY RAINFORESTS IN MY TIME .THE AMAZON IS A WONDERFUL PLACE . TO LOSE THE RAINFOREST JUST FOR MONEY IS VERY SAD OUR GOVERMENT IS NOT INTERESTED AND WHAT GUYANA IS OFFERING SHOULD BE SNAPPED UP . I HAVE BEEN AGAINST THE DESTRUCTION OF THE RAINFORESTS FOR OVER 20YEARS . LIKE MOST THINGS I DELT THE GOVERMENT WILL ACT QUICK ENOUGH, IT SADDENS ME EVERY DAY TO THINK WHAT WE ARE LOSEN.
andrew kyle, LEICESTER



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