Identified as one of EU’s success stories in the Caribbean, Guyana’s Mangrove Restoration Project (GMRP) will be highlighted at the upcoming Global Climate Change Alliance (GCCA) conference in Brussels this September.
According to Chairperson of the GMRP, Annette Arjoon-Martins, interest is high on the alternative livelihood component of the project, which seeks to empower local communities within mangrove forests.
She related, “In that component, villagers in local communities have been taught to become beekeepers. They have been provided with equipment and hives to set up apiaries in the mangrove forest in exchange for which they take responsibility for protecting and managing three-kilometres of mangrove forest.”
An early GMRP initiative was the development of Guyana’s first mangrove reserve located twenty minutes from Georgetown and located in the villages between Golden Grove and Belfield, East Coast of Demerara. Six villagers were trained as tour guides, and daily tours are now available from the Mangrove Centre at Cove and John.
Arjoon-Martins, who is the Operations Manager of Air Services Limited, said that the Ogle airline, which has a development programme for hinterland students, has also undertaken to help provide developmental assistance to the alternative livelihood component of the Mangrove Restoration Project.
Arjoon-Martins stated, “Air Services feels mangrove tour guides would benefit from interacting with their counterparts at Kaieteur Falls, which is our most successful tourist destination, so ASL took four of them on a complimentary visit to the Falls.”
She noted that the intention was also to make the guides more aware of the links in Guyana’s growing tourism sector of which they are now a part.
The four guides – Raymond Hinds, Avnel Wood, Carlotta DeJesus and Colin DeJesus – were taken on a half day visit to Kaieteur; it was the first time they had seen the world-famous waterfall.
Raymond Hinds, who is from the village of Cove and John, and is in his second year with the Mangrove Project said, “I never imagined I would get the opportunity to experience one of the wonders of the world, and I learned a great deal in how the Kaieteur guide interpreted the tour to make it extremely interesting for the visitor. I will certainly be applying what I have learned in our Mangrove Reserve tours.”
ASL, which takes plane loads of tourists to Kaieteur Falls each weekend on Saturdays and Sundays, indicated that it will ensure that the Mangrove Reserve brochures are in the seat pockets on those aircraft, and passengers on those trips will become aware that Guyana has an alternative tourism product, a short drive from Georgetown, that is unusual, entertaining, and affordable.
The Mangrove Reserve won the Guyana Tourism and Hospitality Association of Guyana (THAG), Environmental Award 2011, and the Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO) Biodiversity Conservation Award 2012.
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