Mangrove Reserve opens Visitor Centre
The former estate house at Cove and John was commissioned on Monday to accommodate the Visitor Centre for the recently established Golden Grove/Belfield Mangrove Reserve on the East Coast.
The Centre will serve as the focal point for tours of the Mangrove Reserve organized by the Mangrove Action Committee (MAC), and will also act as a hub for the MAC’s mangrove education and familarisation efforts aimed at secondary school students across the coast.
Students from seven schools have already taken part in tours of the Reserve, with more to follow.
The mangrove tours, available daily, at a cost of $1,000 per person , with discounts for large groups, have been created to spread the mangrove preservation message, while also helping provide income for village residents in the area through working as guides or attendants.
MAC Chairperson, Annette Arjoon-Martins, said that bringing visitors to the area will also provide income for roadside village vendors. There will also be an opportunity for entrepreneurs to have their products for sale (pepper sauce; bottled seasoning; preserves; mangrove honey; etc.) at the Visitor Centre.
Many of the community workers involved in the mangrove preservation effort were among the 150 persons attending the commissioning.
Teri O’Brien, of Wilderness Tours, said the proximity of the tour to Georgetown, 20 minutes away, makes it ideal as a convenient, affordable, half-day tour for visitors as well as residents.
“Many of our tours are to the interior; this one has the advantage of being so close to town and it’s different.”
The Visitor Centre will provide visitors with detailed brochures and information on the Reserve and with several large full-colour vinyl banners telling the mangrove story in simple language and using large photographs.
The Visitor Centre is located at the refurbished bottom-house of the three-storey wooden building which is the former estate house of Cove and John plantation, and the one time home of a Mr. Bascom.
In recent years it has been used to house the Women’s Leadership Institute. Its commissioning for this added use was conducted by the Director of Tourism Indranauth Haralsingh who relayed the Minister’s support for the tour and for the mangrove protection effort which is funded by the Guyana Government and by the European Union (EU).
EU Project Director, Chris Inglebretch, said: “For someone like me who lives in town, the tour is a great idea. With well-trained and enthusiastic tour guides, it will make for a very enjoyable time.”
The EU representative also referred to the strong community involvement that the mangrove project has generated along the coast. He said, “I’m impressed with how well that has come along.”
For the one-hour cultural/nature tour, visitors can choose between a horse cart ride or a vehicle. The trip includes a stop at the 150-year-old Nabaclis tamarind tree, named “Parliament” by residents from its use as a gathering place for local gossip.
There is also a visit to the tiny wooden hut, going back to pre-Emancipation times, where the slaves went to collect their weekly pay.
Nature lovers can follow a seaside trail by the thriving mangrove forest, visit the freshwater pond with tilapia and patwa, and catch the late afternoon return of hundreds of birds nesting in the mangroves.
Sheila Veerasammy, Director of the Women’s Leader Institute, said she was gratified to see the use being ma.de of the building and with the refurbishment of the bottom-house carried out by the MAC.