Representatives of the German Bank KfW were recently in Guyana as the Bank continues to support Guyana’s efforts to establish a National Protected Areas System (NPAS), even as the government pushes the lid away from selected areas for biodiversity conservation to list the entire country’s forests for protection.
Head of the Presidential Secretariat, Dr Roger Luncheon, told reporters on Friday that the recent visit of KfW officials was aimed at addressing the legal and regulatory needs of Guyana in establishing the NPAS.
Kaieteur National Park, home of Kaieteur Falls, renowned for its 741-foot freefall, the golden dart poison frog, and thousands upon thousands of scissors-tailed swifts, is the country’s only protected area.
However, the government has identified two other areas for priority recognition as protected areas. The first is the wildlife-rich Kanuku Mountains located within a vast pristine wilderness area in Guyana’s interior. The second is Shell Beach, a 100-mile stretch in Guyana’s Northwest District, famous as the nesting ground for four of the world’s endangered marine turtles.
Conservation International is the lead agency working with government officials and local indigenous communities to establish a natural reserve in the Kanukus and a national protected area system, while the Guyana Marine Turtle Conservation Society has been playing a lead role in the advocacy for Shell Beach to become a national protected area.
According to Luncheon, the regulatory framework takes into account the management of the protected areas and also calls for a Trust Fund to which stakeholders will be expected to contribute.
He said the draft legislation and the financial mechanism are being reviewed by Cabinet.
This is not the first time KfW is supporting the work of the NPAS in Guyana. A previously signed agreement for 2.9 million Euros is supporting the management of the selected areas for protected areas status.
Those funds included a small grant facility for collaborative management projects dealing with Amerindian communities.
Late last year, the Amerindian communities of Moco Moco in Region Nine and Almond Beach in Region One benefited from funds under the small grant facility.
Moco Moco was presented with a tractor, a 5-ton hydraulic dump trailer, a disc plough, a disc harrow and a threshing machine, while Almond Beach Community received a tractor and trailer.
The equipment were handed over as part of a $16M farming project at Almond Beach which aims to develop savannah agriculture, increase crop production and reduce poverty in the villages, as an alternative to illegal harvesting of the marine turtles at Shell Beach.
The Moco Moco project is expected to reduce the frequency of clearing forested areas to cultivate farms, thus contributing to the conservation of the Kanuku Mountains.
KfW has been providing grants over the last two years for communities living in and around protected areas or areas proposed for protection to assist in improving the livelihoods of the communities. Key among the work the Government was keen in seeing thorough work done is in the delineation of the proposed protected areas, Luncheon stated.
He said that the government was allowing as much time as possible and allowing as much consultation, despite cries of “consultation fatigue”, before the selected areas are declared as protected.
Luncheon declared that the drive towards a protected areas system has now taken on greater meaning with President Bharrat Jagdeo’s climate change initiative in putting up all of the country’s forest for protection if the country were to be paid for the environmental services the forests offer.
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