REDD+ projects 0
Other readiness initiatives 23
Forest cover High
Deforestation rate Low


REDD in Guyana

Guyana is a small country of 215,000 km2 located on the north-eastern shoulder of South America, with a population of approximately 750,000. In December 2011 approximately 87% and 18.39 million hectares of Guyana’s land area was covered by forests (GFC 2012). Guyana is an example of a high forest cover, low deforestation rate (HFLD) country and while historical estimates of forest cover and deforestation rates have suffered from a lack of data, estimates of annual deforestation are extremely low (Cedergren, 2009). A government commissioned study placed deforestation rates at 0.03% per annum between 1990 and 2009, rising to 0.06% between 2009 and 2010 (GFC and Poyry 2011) before falling slightly to 0.05% between 2010 and 2011 (GFC 2012).

The country has relatively low levels of income and economic development with a GDP per capita in 2012 of USD 8,100 (PPP) (CIA 2013). The economy is heavily dependent on agricultural commodities and extractive industries with gold and bauxite contributing to over 60% of all exports in 2012 (Guyana Bureau of Statistics 2012). The major economic activities are also the main drivers of deforestation, with a recent study identifying the mining sector as the main driver of forest loss (GFC 2012).

Guyana is a relatively centralised country with the main power being vested in the nation-state. The main exception relates to Amerindian communities who hold communal title to their lands and retain some separate decision-making powers regarding natural resources through the provisions of the Amerindian Act.

Guyana has been at the forefront of the move toward a REDD mechanism since the offer made by President Bharrat Jagdeo in 2006 to the UK to establish a bilateral partnership to determine how to protect the entirety of the Guyanese rainforest in exchange for economic incentives (Jagdeo, 2008). The UK did not take up the offer, but in November 2009 Guyana and Norway signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) for funding of up to USD 250 million over five years. The MOU provides performance-related finance to implement Guyana’s Low Carbon Development Strategy (LCDS), a national plan to reorient Guyana’s economy on to a low–carbon path. Under this Strategy Guyana will harness REDD+ finance to make strategic investments to reduce GHG emissions in the energy and transportation sector, along with fostering the development of alternative low-carbon industries to move the economy away from extractive industries. 

Guyana has been a major player in the development of an international REDD+ mechanism and is a key participant in the Three Basins Initiative, with former President Bharrat Jagdeo invited to be the Roving Ambassador for the Initiative. The LCDS is not the first such innovative activity in Guyana. The Iwokrama International Centre for Rainforest Conservation and Development (IIC) and the Upper Essequibo Conservation Concession (UECC), a conservation concession of 82,204 ha that was issued to Conservation International (CI) between 2002 and 2012 are two examples of other conservation initiatives in the country. The legal framework for forest management has been updated in recent years with a new Amerindian Act in 2006, a new Forests Act in 2009 and new Protected Areas legislation in 2011.

REDD in Guyana is intrinsically linked with the development and implementation of the LCDS  and the MOU with Norway is currently the only source of finance through which the LCDS will be implemented although other financing sources may be harnessed as they become available. The MOU establishes a framework for REDD payments into the Guyana REDD+ Investment Fund (GRIF) which funds projects under the LCDS. In addition, and as a crucial part of this framework, Guyana is a pilot country under the  Forest Carbon Partnership Facility (FCPF), and its Readiness Preparation Proposal (R-PP) was assessed in June 2009 following submission of its Readiness Plan Idea Note (R-PIN) in February 2008. The latest version of the R-PP (December 2012) outlines national level activities to be conducted to achieve readiness for the implementation of a forest carbon financing mechanism. Some of the main activities include conducting of national consultations and outreach on REDD implementation in Guyana; development of a REDD Strategy and REDD Implementation Framework; work on Reference Levels (RLs) as well as the design and implementation of a Monitoring Reporting & Verification System (MRVS). Though Guyana has not yet benefitted from funding under the FCPF to implement its R-PP, work has commenced on the development and implementation of the national MRVS. The MRVS is used to determine the level of performance-related payments under the MOU with Norway. Guyana is also currently collaborating with local and international partners in the development of a Community MRVS initiative.

Guyana is developing a national-level system for REDD, where payments are linked to the area of the State Forest Estate. Titled Amerindian communities will have the option of opting into the agreement, receiving payments either directly or through an Amerindian Development Fund. There is no separate sub-national implementation of REDD in Guyana as of yet, although the R-PP leaves open the possibility of future sub-national REDD demonstration activities. The current and planned activities relating to REDD and the LCDS are outlined in Guyana’s REDD+ Governance and Development Plan.

Institutional arrangements

The management of issues relating to climate change in Guyana is conducted by the Office of Climate Change (OCC) housed within the Office of the President. The OCC has been established to work across Government to support work on climate adaptation, mitigation and REDD+. It serves to bring together and align efforts that are already underway and to co-ordinate efforts by multilateral and non-governmental organisations assisting Guyana’s climate change agenda. The OCC is the entity with overall coordinating responsibility for ongoing national consultations on Guyana’s Low-Carbon Development Strategy (LCDS) and related stakeholder engagement processes, working closely with the REDD Secretariat which was established under the Guyana Forestry Commission.

The Guyana Forestry Commission  has been designated as the agency responsible for the implementation of key technical aspects of REDD+ - including the development of the national Monitoring, Reporting and Verification System (MRVS), as well as implementation of the R-PP . The  REDD+ Secretariat was set up as the operational unit to conduct these activities. This Secretariat is being strengthened through funding from the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) and through the institutional funding project funded through the Guyana REDD+ Investment Fund (GRIF). As part of the implementation of the R-PP a National REDD+ Working Group will be established upon receipt of FCPF funds with membership from governmental agencies, civil society and the private sector.

The twin development of REDD+ through the Low Carbon Development Strategy (LCDS) and its related institutions and the efforts under the FCPF and the R-PP has raised issues. In a verification report of progress of the LCDS the Rainforest Alliance highlighted a lack of clarity ‘on the relationship between the REDD+ efforts and the LCDS’ (Donovan et al 2010 p22). Guyana, however, sees the R-PP as a discrete mechanism of the LCDS, which is an overall strategy.

Stakeholder engagement and participation

In the development of its Low Carbon Development Strategy (LCDS) and its related activities Guyana has committed itself to full stakeholder engagement and participation, and in particular, has claimed that all activities will be in keeping with the principle of Free Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC). The development of the LCDS has led to the establishment of the Low Carbon Development Strategy Multi-Stakeholder Steering Committee (MSSC) which includes members of Government agencies, civil society, youth representatives, indigenous representation, both national and international NGOs, and the private sector. National stakeholder awareness and engagements took place following the development of the first draft of the LCDS, with meetings taking place in all 10 regions of Guyana. The MSSC oversaw this process. The initial stakeholder process has been independently assessed by monitors from the International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED), who highlighted the significant headway made in stakeholder engagement in this area, but underlined that there were still certain limitations and recommended improvements to the process (Dow et al 2009). The report concluded that the process had ‘opened a new space for multi-stakeholder involvement’ but moving forward the process needed support from all state and non-state actors. A report by the Rainforest Alliance in 2012 (Rainforest Alliance 2012) verifying the progress of the Guyana-Norway agreement found that there has also been a noticeable reduction in the efforts by the Government of Guyana (GoG) to communicate and consult with stakeholders. It should be noted that subsequent to the report there has been a redoubling of consultative efforts.

Feedback from stakeholder meetings led to a revised second draft, which has been followed by two subsequent drafts. The current version is that of March 2013. As a commitment to Free, Prior and Informed Consent Guyana will create an ‘Opt-In’ mechanism for titled Amerindian communities to choose whether to participate or not in the national-level REDD mechanism. In September 2013 the mechanism is still in the design phase with a draft concept paper released in 2010 (Government of Guyana 2010).

Guyana’s R-PP was developed in consultation with government agencies and with the support of a number of NGOs such as Conservation International – Guyana. It involved a series of awareness workshops with Amerindian communities, forest users and the general public. As part of the R-PP process the government plans to establish a National REDD+ Working Group that will include government members, representatives from NGOs and the private sector.

The concept of Free Prior and Informed Consent has been clearly applied to Amerindian communities. In an assessment of the progress of enabling activities a ‘number of individuals indicated that FPIC should clearly not just apply to Amerindian communities, but to all communities’ (Donovan et al 2010 p26). The Rainforest Alliance (2012) found that FPIC has been lacking in the REDD/LCDS process, particularly with respect to territorial rights and the REDD+ opt-in process that will soon be available to forest-dependent Amerindian communities.

Land tenure arrangements and carbon rights

Guyana recognises two main types of land tenure, public property through the State Forest Estate and State Lands, comprising 83% of land area and 84% of forested area, and private property including the communally owned land of 96 titled Amerindian communities. On public lands Guyana grants three levels of logging concessions, and three different types of mining claims, in addition to State land leases for agricultural and other activities. These concessions give some rights to concessionaires regarding access and use of the forest. The government has committed itself to retaining these concessions under the LCDS, but with a renewed focus on enforcement of regulations, third party verification and independent forest monitoring (Government of Guyana 2013).

Under the LCDS a plan has been laid out for the tilting, demarcation and extension of Amerindian Lands to address issues regarding untitled Amerindian communities and their participation in the REDD+ mechanism. Despite this, it has been noted that the Government of Guyana should ‘recognize that the absence of discussion on the constraints or challenges faced on rights-related efforts […] has created uncertainty’ (Donovan et al 2010 p5). 

Guyana is developing a mechanism that will allow Amerindian communities to opt their communally owned lands into the REDD+ mechanism, receiving payments in line with the size of the forest opted in and the reduction in deforestation. 

Forest management

The majority of forested areas in Guyana falls within the state-owned State Forest Estate. This area is managed by the Guyana Forestry Commission who has responsibility for overseeing all forestry concessions from the initial granting to monitoring and enforcement. 14% of Guyana’s forests fall within Amerindian Villages which are managed by each individual Village Council.

The LCDS aims to strengthen compliance with existing environmental regulations. Under the Mining Act, for example, there is a commitment to reclaim land; a process that has historically not been strong within Guyana’s mining industry. Enhanced enforcement of such regulations has been identified as one possible activity under a REDD Strategy to be developed under Guyana’s R-PP (R-PP 2012).

Incentives under the LCDS include the creation of employment opportunities in non-traditional sectors, and the provision of improved infrastructure including electricity supply through the Amaila Falls Hydropower Facility.

The LCDS also proposes to provide financial payments to forest communities under an Opt In mechanism to be created. Particular reference has been made for the compensation of displaced forest workers, including miners. However, the LCDS makes explicit reference to the fact that there is no intention to share REDD+ payments with large concessionaires who will be allowed to continue operations albeit under tighter regulation.

Guyana is currently in Phase 2 of negotiations for a Voluntary Partnership Agreement (VPA) under the European Union’s (EU) Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade (FLEGT) Action Plan, with negotiations beginning in May 2012. The commitment of Guyana to sign up to the FLEGT process is enshrined in the latest version of the Joint Concept Note (JCN) regarding the MOU with Norway. A Roadmap issued in January 2013 schedules Guyana to move toward implementation by the end of 2015.

Reference levels

Guyana is currently using an interim national reference level under the framework of its Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Norway. Under the MOU Guyana will use the Combined Incentives reference level using a combination of the average deforestation rate for Guyana between 2000 and 2009 and the average deforestation rate for developing countries between 2005 and 2009. In the absence of clear data for these two numbers the reference level was set at 0.45% as an average of 0.3% for Guyana’s historical reference level, and 0.6% for the global average.

In early 2011 new data became available and Guyana’s 2000-2009 annual average deforestation rate was revised to 0.03%, and the global deforestation rate to 0.52%, giving an amended reference level of 0.275%. This reference level will be further revised if and when a methodology is agreed under the REDD+ mechanism within the UNFCCC. The reference level of 0.275% is intended to be used to determine payments under the MOU with Norway, but should the annual deforestation rate exceed the rate for 2010 of 0.056% Guyana will receive a reduced payment, with the reduction in payment increasing up to 100% at a level of 0.1%, above which Guyana will receive no payments.

The only exception is any deforestation that arises as a result of the construction of the Amaila Falls Hydropower Facility, a project that is proposed to be part-funded from the Guyana REDD+ Investment Fund (GRIF) and a crucial lynch-pin in the LCDS. This is because the deforestation that is predicted to result from the project would cause the annual deforestation rate to exceed the established reference levels. In addition to the reference levels the Joint Concept Note (JCN) relating to the MOU establishes a carbon proxy loss of 100tC/ha from deforestation, to be revised as more information arises from the establishment of Guyana’s Monitoring, Reporting and Verification System (MRVS).


Historically Guyana’s capacity to Monitor, Report and Verify (MRV) emissions from deforestation and forest degradation has been very low, with only approximate estimates of historic deforestation rates available for the country as a whole. One of the key readiness activities under Guyana’s REDD+ initiative is performance measurement and reporting under a national Monitoring, Reporting and Verification System (MRVS). It is being developed using a capacity building roadmap approach using a phased approach. The framework for the development of this system has been laid-down in Guyana’s MRVS Roadmap. A MRVS Steering Committee was convened to oversee the development and implementation of Guyana’s MRVS. Two aspects, among a number of other areas, of the MRVS have commenced: forest area change assessment and assessment of the carbon stock of Guyana’s forests.  In 2013 Guyana will pilot the operationalising of its MRVS, conducting full reporting on emissions and removals as guided by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

In addition to the development of a national level MRVS, work is being undertaken in developing Community MRV within Guyana. A collaborative project between the Global Canopy Programme (GCP) and the Government of Guyana at Annai is training forest-dependent communities to monitor their environment.


A number of different institutions are responsible for the establishment of safeguards relating to REDD+ in Guyana. Under the LCDS the World Bank, as the Trustee of the Guyana REDD+ Investment Fund (GRIF), will apply its fiduciary safeguards. Under the terms of the administrative agreement establishing the GRIF, the GRIF Steering Committee is responsible for establishing fiduciary, safeguard and operational standards for partner entities other than the World Bank, the IDB or the UN. In the Readiness Preparation Proposal (R-PP) the Strategic Environmental and Social Assessment (SESA) will support the drafting and finalising of the required safeguards for readiness related activities/strategies identified in the R-PP.

Projects funded by the GRIF will follow the environmental and social safeguards of the partner entities chosen to help implement these projects. As it stands these partner entities are nominated as the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) and the World Bank. Additional partner entities may be added if the GRIF Steering Committee deems it necessary and if the entities meet the standards established by the committee. This process will remain in place until the process of establishing safeguards is determined under the UNFCCC.

The Environmental Protection Act provides for the management, conservation, protection and improvement of the environment , the prevention, control of pollution, the assessment of the impact of economic development on the environment and the sustainable use of natural resources. It outlines the process for conducting Environmental Impact Assessments (EIAs) for projects. How this process will relate to any future sub-national REDD+ project is still to be determined.


CEDERGREN, J. 2009. Measurement and Reporting of Forest Carbon in Guyana: Preparing for REDD Implementation, UN-REDD Programme country study.


CONSERVATION INTERNATIONAL et al. 2009.  Reducing Deforestation and Forest Degradation while Promoting Sustainable Development: South American Regional Infrastructure Development, Forests and REDD: Implications for Guyana.

DONOVON, R. et al. 2010. Verification of Progress Related To Enabling Activities For The Guyana-Norway REDD+ Agreement, Rainforest Alliance.

DOW, J. et al. 2009. Independent Review of the Stakeholder Consultation Process for Guyana’s Low Carbon Development Strategy (LCDS), International Institute for Environment and Development.

GOVERNMENT OF GUYANA 2010, Developing a Framework for an ‘Opt-in’ Mechanism for Amerindian Communities

GOVERNMENT OF GUYANA 2012, Guyana’s Readiness Preparation Proposal

GOVERNMENT OF GUYANA 2013 Transforming Guyana’s Economy While Combating Climate Change

GUYANA BUREAU OF STATISTICS. 2012. Imports and Exports 2012.

GUYANA FORESTRY COMMISSION AND POYRY FORESTRY INDUSTRY (GFC and Poyry). 2011. Guyana REDD+ Monitoring, Reporting and Verification System (MRVS) Interim Measures Report.

GUYANA FORESTRY COMMISSION (GFC) 2012, Guyana Forestry Commission Guyana REDD + Monitoring Reporting & Verification System ( MRVS ) Interim Measures Report 01 October 2010 – 31 December 2011 Version 3

HEROLD, M, & BHOLANATH, P. 2009. Preparing Guyana’s REDD+ participation: Developing capacities for monitoring, reporting and verification.

INTERNATIONAL MONETARY FUND. 2011. World Economic Outlook 2011. ESDS International, University of Manchester

IWOKRAMA. 2009. Iwokrama International Centre for Rainforest Conservation and Development: Annual Report 2009.

JAGDEO, B. 2008. Why the West should put money in the trees. Viewpoint. BBC. Available here. [Accessed August 2011]

RAINFOREST ALLIANCE, 2012, Verification of Progress Related to Indicators for the Guyana-Norway REDD+ Agreement 2nd Verification audit covering the period October 1, 2010 – June 30, 2012

UNITED NATIONS DEVELOPMENT PROGRAMME. 2010. Human Development Report 2010.


CEED Knowledge