Gov’t opens first Mangrove Centre in keeping with conservation efforts

The content originally appeared on: INews Guyana

On Friday, the Government of Guyana through the Ministry of Agriculture’s National Agriculture Research and Extension Institute (NAREI) held an opening ceremony for Guyana’s first Mangrove Information and Preservation Centre at Mon Repos.

The centre’s establishment, which was developed through collaborations with Iwokrama International Centre for Rainforest Conservation and Development and Exxon Foundation, forms part of the Ministry’s and by extension the Government’s efforts to implement a Strategic Plan for Agriculture and Rural Statistics (SPARS) and develop an Integrated Agriculture Information System.

Prime Minister, Hon. Brig (r’td) Mark Phillips while offering the feature address said Guyana has long been at the forefront of mangrove restoration and management efforts and that through collaborative initiatives, efforts have been made to restore degraded mangrove areas.

“Mangroves act as a natural carbon sink absorbing and storing vast amounts of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. By conserving and protecting our mangroves, we actively contribute to global efforts, striving to combat climate change and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Recognizing the importance and valuable contribution of these ecosystems to coastal protection and climate change mitigation, our government has over the years committed to their protection sustainable management, and restoration. This has been articulated in the transformative Low Carbon Development Strategy 2030 and the new National Mangrove Action Plan,” the Prime Minister explained.

Meanwhile, Agriculture Minister, Zulfikar Mustapha while offering remarks said that mangroves act as a natural sea defense and, by extension, complement our nation’s D&I system. He also said that the opening of the center demonstrates the government’s dedication to safeguarding Guyana’s natural ecosystem and sea defenses.

“This Mangrove Information Centre signifies more than a mere building; it is a proclamation of our dedication to safeguarding our mangroves, preserving our heritage, and securing our future. In our national context, mangroves are indispensable contributors to our fisheries, vital buffers against coastal erosion, and guardians of our diverse ecosystems,” he said.

Mangroves are known to serve as a link between terrestrial and marine environments and as such, perform multiple functions including mitigation of coastal erosion, compensation of rising sea levels, regulation of water quality, and provision of other countless ecosystem services.

Minister Mustapha also disclosed that for 2023, the Government has invested some $200 million into mangrove restoration to complete projects on the Essequibo Coast in Region Two and Mahaicony, Region Five through the construction of geotextile tube groynes, and timber breakwaters.

“These projects are part of Guyana’s adoption of the green-grey infrastructure approach to the protection and increased resilience of our coastline. Through strategic government interventions, we have been able to execute projects that include the construction of 300 meters of permeable breakwaters along the Dantzig/Fairfield foreshore, a project aimed at enhancing the resilience of our coastal areas. Additionally, the construction of sediment trapping units spanning 300 meters along the Exmouth/Jib foreshore and a 160-meter rubble mound groyne in the same area exemplify our multifaceted approach to coastal protection. Moreover, the installation of 500 meters of geotextile tubes to form groynes and breakwaters along the Alness foreshore showcases our commitment to innovative and sustainable solutions in sea defense,” he added.

Minister Mustapha explained that these projects, undertaken through the MOA with NDIA and MMA, are pivotal steps in the government’s mission to fortify Guyana’s coastlines against the ravages of climate change.

NAREI with support from Iwokrama and Exxon Foundation has also commenced work to support training opportunities for local communities to help start sustainable businesses. Additionally, investments in mangrove-related economic opportunities, starting with beekeeping in mangroves, will significantly improve local livelihoods. This will be realized through a partnership with Cuban beekeeping experts and the Guyana Livestock Development Authority (GLDA) which will see investments to scale up Guyana’s honey production.