GEORGETOWN, Guyana (AP) — Guyana says it fears it could lose up to $20 million in annual payments from Norway after officials noted the deforestation rate has increased slightly in the South American country.
The two countries had signed a deal in 2009 in which Norway pledged a $250 million grant as an incentive for Guyana to protect its lush forests.
But Forestry Minister Robert Persaud says an ongoing gold boom and the construction of a hydroelectric project have led to thousands of hectares of forest being cleared.
Opposition legislator Trevor Williams said Saturday that the government needs to increase its monitoring of activities in the country's interior.
Most of Guyana's 730,000 people live along the coast, leaving the interior largely unoccupied. About 70 percent of Guyana's land mass is covered in forest.