– as Govt admits funding options for agency limitedThe Guyana Forestry Commission (GFC), which has been featured prominently in the media in recent months owing to its restructuring, has had a new Board of Directors approved to oversee its operations until next year.The forestry sector has experienced contradictory times with a growing sector and a struggling regulatorAccording to a gazetted notice, the new Board will be led by incumbent Chair Joselyn Dow. Other members include Latchmin Punalall, Dr David Singh, Clayton Hall, Audwin Rutherford, Vanessa Kissoon and Commissioner James Singh. Also included are representatives from the Forest Producers Association, the Ministry of the Presidency, Indigenous Peoples’ Affairs Ministry, the Guyana Manufacturers and Services Association and the Ministries of Agriculture and Business.Meanwhile, Finance Minister Winston Jordan, at a press conference last week, alluded to the Commission’s difficulties in bringing in revenue and paying staff. He noted that the Commission has had to contend with a ban on the importation of greenheart into the United Kingdom, among other things.“We are limited by what we can do, because Parliament is not in session. So even if we want to support them, we’ll have to go to Parliament to get supplemental. That is not possible at this stage, so we’ll have to see if there are any other creative approaches to getting them some money to tide them over,” Jordan had said.“They have had a number of challenges that have reduced their revenue intake. The BaiShanLin concessions were returned, so they are not earning anything from it. It has not been given out. Greenheart exports, problems there. The whole issue of timber not expanding at the rate it should.”Notwithstanding these problems, including payment of the Forestry Commission’s own staff, the 2019 Mid-Year Report had shown that the sector was one of the few economic success stories. The report had said that the forestry subsector was estimated to have grown at the half-year.This growth encompasses the production of timber, including logs, round wood, primary lumber, split wood and fuelwood. According to the report, the production of these commodities rose 7.8 per cent above the level achieved at the end of June 2018.“This pushed growth in the sector to 8.5 per cent in the first half of 2019. The improvements to interior roads in the latter half of 2018 saw community loggers, particularly in Region 10, realising higher production levels in the first quarter of 2019. Production continued to surge, driven by small-scale concessions and community forestry operators.”“At the end of the first half, log production grew by 6.8 per cent, mainly on account of the increased extraction of greenheart logs to meet local demand. On the other hand, weaker international demand for round wood resulted in a contraction of this category in the second quarter, which resulted in a 2.6 per cent decline relative to the previous half-year,” the report adds.According to the report, primary lumber producers recorded gains of 32.4 per cent in the first half, which was attributed to them capitalising on local demand for construction. The report also projects a positive outlook for the remainder of the year for the sector.“Given these factors, the forestry sector is conservatively expected to expand by 5 per cent, 3.1 percentage points above the projection in Budget 2019,” the report says.