As a country with the second highest percentage of forest cover on Earth and extremely high levels of biological diversity (there are more birds species in Guyana than in the entire USA) and endemism (species that are found nowhere else), Guyana is one of the world’s most important countries for biodiversity conservation. Historically, Guyana’s biodiversity was naturally protected due to low human population density and the fact that much of the country was inaccessible. Over the past decade there have been growing pressures to the environment and WWF Guianas has been working with stakeholders at all levels to address the challenges. We commend the achievements made and remain committed to enabling people-centered approaches to conservation and sustainable development.
The establishment and effective management of protected areas is critical for the conservation of biodiversity. The expansion of Guyana’s protected area system, with the addition of Shell Beach in Region 1 and Kanuku Mountains in Region 9 – in 2011 means that 5.6% of Guyana landmass is now protected. Protected areas afford long-term protection for threatened species, ecosystem processes and livelihoods of surrounding communities, and contributes to our country’s economy through nature-based tourism and REDD+ payments. Designating additional sites for protection can only magnify these benefits while achieving our commitment under the United Nations’ Convention on Biological Diversity to protect 17% of Guyana by 2020.
Achieving effective stewardship of our biodiversity going forward will also depend on policies and legal instruments which support real low-carbon and sustainable development, and conservation of natural resources for future generations. We believe Guyana has enormous opportunities to develop renewable energy, promote environmentally sound practices within the extractive industries (mining, forestry and fisheries) and, the manufacturing and transportation sectors. Foreign investments and commodity exports should also be guided by this. Legislative reforms must reflect the need for cross and intra-sectoral integration to enable effective administration. In going forward too, evidence-based decision-making in developmental planning activities and investments can help ensure that resources are wisely utilised. Addressing knowledge shortfalls of our natural resources, therefore, should be prioritised. Understanding our biodiversity and how best to sustainably manage it through inventorying and long-term monitoring - will help us to make informed decisions and support adaptive management. Above all, WWF Guianas believes that people’s livelihoods and well-being (encompassing food security, access to potable water, health, sustainable local economies and socio-cultural stability) should be secured by conservation actions and throughout the processes of truly sustainable development. This calls for more bottom-up approaches and active participation of local stakeholders in drafting policies and legislation, enforcing regulations and decision-making regarding developmental projects likely to impact them and the biodiversity on which they rely.
Biodiversity sustains our economies, livelihoods and health, and is crucial in the fight against climate change. Through our programmes in Guyana, Fisheries, Protected Areas, Climate Change (REDD+ and Community-based Monitoring, Reporting and Verification – CMRV) and Environmental Awareness and Capacity Building, WWF-Guyana is committed to working with local, national, and regional stakeholders to safeguard our natural resources.
About WWF Guianas - WWF Guianas is part of the world’s largest conservation organization, with a mission to stop the degradation of the Earth’s natural environment and to build a future in which humans live in harmony with nature. Learn more at www.wwfguianas.org.
For further information contact:
Head of Office
Telephone: (592) 223-7802