Commissioner of the Guyana Forestry Commission, James Singh, has said that while there are no immediate signs to indicate a lifting of the ban on the export of Greenheart logs, the United Kingdom has agreed to reopen dialogue in this regard in efforts to move forward.Singh told stakeholders on Friday that the United Kingdom’s Environment Agency made the commitment to reopening dialogue, and it would commence with a scheduled video conference sometime soon.He made the statement while responding to questions at a presentation of the revised National Forest Policy and Plan to forestry stakeholders.GFC head, James Singh“The plan is to have a video conference with the relevant personnel very shortly, and then, based on that, we will invite the relevant persons to come to Guyana and see what is happening in the forest. That is the game plan for now… We did a very comprehensive paper on the stocking of Greenheart in Guyana: about the harvesting, about the amount in the forest, and we found that there is absolutely no threat to the sustainability of Greenheart,” he explained.Singh also said he is optimistic that some headway would be made by the end of 2018, as things move closer to the lifting of the ban.Since the ban came into effect in 2015, Government has been in talks with United Kingdom to have it reversed. Greenheart exports to the UK went from US$3.2 million in 2014 to US$1million in 2015.Ever since the ban came into effect, the Guyana Manufacturing and Services Association (GMSA) has labelled it “unfair,” and has called for a review.It was pointed out by the GMSA that given that the markets for tropical forest products were declining and proving challenging, “Incorrect labelling of our forest management practices in this negative way can only be detrimental to the future lives and livelihoods of the 25,000 people directly employed in this industry.”The International Tropical Timber Organisation (ITTO) had identified Guyana as one of only six tropical forest-producing countries in the world practising sustainable forestry management at the forest-concession level.In an effort to the stamp out illegal logging, Guyana joined the EU Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade (FLEGT) initiative. The FLEGT system mandates countries to use the Wood Tracking System to tag logs and their stumps, so that when they reach the point of export, they could be traced backed to the origin to ensure their legality. The system is not new to Guyana, since loggers have been mandated to tag their produce, so they can track them to ensure they are within their licensed agreement.The EU FLEGT Regulation of 2005 empowers the European Commission to negotiate Voluntary Partnership Agreements (VPAs) with timber-exporting countries. Under these agreements, VPA partner countries ensure they export to the EU only legal products carrying FLEGT licences.A Voluntary Partnership Agreement (VPA) is a legally binding trade agreement between the European Union and a timber-producing country outside of the EU. The purpose of a VPA is to ensure that timber and timber products exported to the EU come from legal sources. The agreements also help timber-exporting countries stop illegal logging by improving regulation and governance of the forest sector.