Minister of State, Joseph Harmon during a sector review of the Department of the Environment earlier this week, committed to the administration of the National Parks Commission (NPC) to engage several embassies here to solicit their assistance in maintaining the local parks.
The NPC faces several challenges that hinder the proper maintenance of the local parks.
According to a release from the Department of Public Information, these include drainage issues on the West Bank of Demerara (WBD) in the vicinity of Joe Viera Park, which has led to the park’s flooding.
Drainage issues on the northern portion of the Zoological Park and Rescue Centre also pose challenges.
In light of these and other hindrances to revenue collection, Minister Harmon has assured that steps are being taken to address these matters through joint ventures with foreign embassies, the first being the Chinese.
The State Minister said that “The Chinese have committed in a major way to dealing with Joe Viera Park. We’ve done some site visits; soil testing and I can assure you that I will aggressively go after this to ensure that they not only maintain it but I’m looking for a long-term maintenance contract for about ten years or so”.
He is optimistic that by the end of 2018, the park will be to the desired standard. There will be a major push, Minister Harmon committed, for the acquiring of equipment such as excavators, slashers, and tractors, among others to aid in the maintenance efforts.
“If we are talking about a green state we can’t have a slushy state. It has to be properly maintained, it has to be well kept …and so part of this Green State Development Strategy is to ensure that we can produce that kind of environment. The Zoological Park, the Botanical Gardens we will have to pay more attention to.”
Head of Administration at the NPC, Denise Bentick informed that “We plan to improve the zoo infrastructure and rehabilitate the National Park north stand.”
In presenting the Commission’s 2018 Work Plan she noted that plans are on stream for the re-establishing of relations with international zoos, upgrading and rehabilitating key buildings and infrastructure within the parks.
“Training will continue and this is being done in conjunction with the plans of the Protected Areas Commission. We have the annual zoo camp which is part of the education and awareness objective,” she highlighted.
The NPC will also endeavour to dispose of all derelict and inoperable vehicles and equipment from all locations, and review and increase prices for revenue-generating activities.
The Commission currently accounts for revenue generated from the four urban protected areas and one hinterland protected area, namely the National Park, Botanical Gardens, Zoological Park and Rescue Centre, Joe Viera Park, and Kaieteur National Park. These parks are now included in the National Protected Areas System (NPAS) to be managed by the Protected Areas Commission (PAC) established by the Protected Areas Act 2011.
The National Parks Commission is one of the four agencies that fall under the purview of the Department of the Environment.