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By Jeanna Pearson Indigenous communities yesterday voiced their concerns about the execution of the Voluntary Partnership Agreement (VPA) should it be signed in March 2016 and called for an extension of the signing and consent timeline.FLEGT Policy Advisor for Amerindian Peoples’ Association Michael Mc Garrell yesterday at the launch of two reports.National Toshao Council (NTC) Executive member, Lennox Shuman, avowed that the indigenous communities were simply not prepared for the implementation since most of them were not sufficiently informed about the agreement.“Indigenous communities are not prepared for the implementation of the VPA should it be signed in March 2016, and therefore the timeline for the signing and ratification should be extended,” he stated,China Jerseys Free Shipping, asking that the communities be given another year to get acquainted with the VPA process.Shuman made his declaration at the launch of two reports which emphasized how forestry related activities and the supporting governance system affects the indigenous communities.Both reports stem from the project “Promoting the effective participation of indigenous peoples in the FLEGT Voluntary Partnership Agreement process in Guyana.” The project, which is being funded by the EU and the UK Department for International Development (DFID), runs for two years, from 2014 until 2016.One of the reports, “Community Views on the Guyana- EU FLEGT VPA process” came out of a series of workshops held in Regions 1 and 2; while the other report came out of a “Seminar on essential elements for a legality definition and legality assurance system in the Guyana-EU FLEGT VPA.”It was during these activities that the Amerindian communities put forward their concerns and recommendations on the agreement. It was stated that many indigenous people have little to no knowledge about the VPA process,NFL Jerseys China, while new information is often not passed on between community members.Further, it was noted that the indigenous communities have not taken part in the development of essential forest related laws and policies.FLEGT Policy Advisor for Amerindian Peoples’ Association, Michael Mc Garrell, stated that while negotiations have been ongoing for years, the Amerindian communities feel that their concerns are not being heard. “So there should be more time for stakeholder participations and more consultations with communities so that they can fully understand what the whole FLEGT process is.”“We want to ensure that in improving these government structures that the VPA takes into consideration,Cheap Jerseys Free Shipping, the concerns and recommendations of the people in the communities because they are the ones who live in there and understand how they can be impacted,” he stated.Communities complained bitterly about being “criminalized” by the current system that exists, he added.He noted that the people believe that while the VPA is a positive move it could still have some negative impact. “As a result they believe that their concerns and recommendations should be taken into account because it can help strengthen the VPA that Guyana has…They believe that their input into the whole negotiation process can lead to a strong VPA.”In a fight against unlawful logging, the European Union established the Governance and Trade (FLEGT) Action Plan. FLEGT outlines a number of measures to combat illegal logging in forests and stop illicit lumber from entering the markets,Babe Ruth Braves Throwback Jersey, while increasing the supply of legal timber.The VPA is a key element to fight against the illegal trade as well as supporting good forest governance in the member countries. FLEGT had been recommended for Guyana under its forest partnership with Norway. The government later consented and signalled its intention to sign the VPA, as part of its aim to prevent deforestation.The VPA, once decided, will see commitment and action from both parties to cease the illicit logging trade, particularly with a licence scheme to authenticate the legality of lumber exported to the EU.  The agreement will also ensure the promotion of better forest law enforcement.Although,Cheap Jerseys From China, the Amerindian leaders welcomed the VPA, they remain with some reservations, especially issues concerning land rights and communities involvement in the process.They are requesting that the VPA ensure strong protections for customary land rights and for the application of the core standard of free, prior and informed consent (FPIC) before the issuance of any logging concession and permits over forest areas that they have traditionally used and occupied.Shuman suggested that the criteria and framework for indigenous communities to meet FLEGT approval, should reflect the particular and unique situations of indigenous communities especially related to land tenure.Further, he stated that the laws and policies must respect the customary rights of indigenous peoples in relation to land. “All relevant laws, including the Amerindian Act, the Mining Act, and the Forest Act must be revised to fully recognize and respect indigenous rights, and to avoid conflicts before the implementation of the VPA,” he added.He said the VPA must take into account international laws, especially human rights laws, while all rights issues in relation to indigenous peoples land ownership must first be addressed before making any agreement with the EU.There were talks of more extensive VPA consultations with indigenous communities, especially that VPA documents should be available in indigenous languages as well as in simple English to assist in making informed decisions.Vice Chairman of the NTC, Aubrey Samuels, indicated further that there should be no, logging on untitled traditional lands—lands for which communities have applied for title, extension, or which they are occupying and using.“There should be one FLEGT-certified indigenous company to cater for all indigenous communities,” he noted, suggesting that there must be more partnership between the APA and the NTC in representing the VPA recommendations.“The NTC is encouraged to endorse the recommendations of this workshop; organizations like the APA and the NTC must monitor agreements to ensure transparency of the VPA process,NFL Jerseys Supply,” he said.He also stated that the APA should sit on the National Technical Working Group board.Shuman, on the other hand, indicated that there should be a stipulation that allows room for amendments to the VPA agreement as the situation changes.“Indigenous peoples and communities must be involved in such processes from the inception and not at the end,” he added.He stated that it will be in late 2016, that the Amerindian communities will be in a position to join the EU-FLEGT.
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