|All that Glitters is not Gold - Balancing Conservation and Development in Venezuela's Frontier Forests (WRI, 1998, 60 pages)|
Mining and logging have an important role to play in Venezuela's economic recovery. However, to ensure a long-term sustainable future for the people of the Guayana region, policy-makers should consider implementing the following measures:
1. Capture revenue from forest resources and ensure that benefits contribute to long-term forest conservation.
Additional revenue could be captured from activities already occurring in the Guayana region if changes in policy were considered, such as:
· Eliminating subsidies on logging, and establishing an open bidding process for future mining and logging concessions, as well as concession contracts for park services.
· New options for financing forest conservation initiatives to protect critical forest ecosystems under the Clean Development Mechanism of the Kyoto Climate Protocol.
· Ensure that entrance fees for national parks, and water and electricity charges reflect the cost of managing watersheds.
2. Minimize the environmental and social impacts from mining and logging.
Before increasing the pace of mining and logging in the Guayana region, priority should be given to decreasing environmental and social impacts from extractive activities, through the following actions:
· Enforcing current environmental regulations before expanding extractive activities.
· Enacting a moratorium on new mining and logging contracts until there is a clear policy on environmentally responsible mining, reclamation standards have been developed for mining, and forest policies have been updated.
· Conducting baseline studies to gather information on the forest ecosystems of the region, so that possible environmental impacts can be monitored and measured against a scientific yardstick.
· Developing an "early warning" monitoring system to minimize environmental and social impacts while increasing the capacity of government to provide more effective oversight of extractive activities in forests.
· Requiring that companies post performance bonds that adequately reflect potential environmental and social costs.
3. Consider new arrangements for forest resource use based on public participation.
Part of ensuring a sustainable future for the Guayana region would include more active public participation and longer-term planning for natural resource conservation and use. Specifically:
· A regional land-use plan based on managing the region at a landscape scale, including participation of local communities, local governments, ministry officials, non-governmental organizations, and universities.
· Demarcation of indigenous territories in consultation with indigenous communities, and consideration of new collaborative arrangements between parks personnel, other government agencies, and indigenous communities.
· Public disclosure and discussion of government plans, such as the environmental impact assessment of the Guri transmission line, or forest management plans.