– EPA to conduct similar exercises countrywideSmall forest operators in Pomeroon-Supenaam were on Saturday enlightened about the need to have an Environmental Authorisation. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) held an interactive workshop to educate them on this critical requirement for operating in the country’s forests. The first such workshop was held in Region 10 last December.Forest operators from villages across the region, including Indigenous communities, were all part of the workshop. During the workshop, they were given an in-depth presentation which explained the Environmental Authorisation, why it is important to have one, where to apply for one and how to fill out the requisite forms.Aside from the theoretical aspect of the session, they were also taken to a nearby sawmill for a first-hand view on how to protect themselves and the environment. The operators were very vocal throughout the workshop, asking questions to ensure that they have clarity on the way forward.Participants were high in praise for the initiative taken to bring them up-to-date with the requirement for protecting the environment. Judy Marslowe of Bethany said “for me it is realising that everything around you has its positive and negative which is either being used or abused and we really need to take it seriously the things we do every day and take for granted… There must be some sort of system and control of how things are being done and if we do not, maybe somewhere down the road, we might regret it.”Toshao of Akawini, David Wilson is quoted by the Department of Public Information (DPI) as saying that Indigenous people have for centuries taken care of the environment how they know best. However, he said that “learning today more about the way to go, is a plus for us so that we can take back to our communities and enlighten our villages on what they need to do.” Toshao David also called for similar workshops to be held more frequently.Leo Gomes of Lake Mainstay noted that he was pleased by the efforts of the EPA to educate the people on how to care for the environment. “I am thankful for the education they have given concessionaires, small and big, where you can obtain licenses… I see that it is fit and very much acceptable” Gomes stated.The workshop is aimed at ensuring that all forest operators become authorised in keeping with Section 14 of the Environmental Act. The act states that: “before harvesting and utilising forest resources, an operator must first seek permission from the Environmental Protection Agency.” That permission is the Environmental Authorisation which not only seeks to protect the environment, but also the health of the those involved.Senior Environmental Officer, Colis Primo said that with the completion of the workshop, he hopes that persons will make an effort to acquire the environmental authorisation.Primo underscored that “this is a continuous process and we will continue to work with them. They would have highlighted some challenges that they foresee in the authorisation process and we intend to work with them in terms of resolving those challenges because we would be happy if by tomorrow, they could submit their applications.”The EPA, throughout 2019, will be conducting similar workshops countrywide to encourage more forest operators to be authorised. The Environmental Authorisation application process costs $10,000 (US$50) and once approved $20,000 (US$100) per year. Alternatively, operators may apply for a maximum environmental authorisation at $100,000 (US$500) for five years.The outreaches also focus on sensitising forest operators about the European Union/Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade (EU/FLEGT) agreement with Guyana, to protect the environment. Hence, the move by the EPA to get all forest operators on board with best environmental practices in order to mitigate any negative impact, which may result from their actions, on the environment.