Letter: Mangroves are not the elixir, as some falsely believe

Mangrove [Photo: Guyana Mangrove Restoration Project]

Dear Editor,

I am aghast at this nonsensical noise-making over the cutting of some mangroves at Malgre Tout/Versailles, West Bank Demerara, Region Three. The noise from some corners is so cacophonous that it resembles a bedlam. Gosh! If mangroves were so indispensable and impregnable where sea erosion is concerned, then the whole earth would have facilitated its spawning.

So I add my voice to Minister Juan Edghill’s when he says that “Sea defence and flood protection provided by the section of mangroves being cleared at Malgre Tout/ Versailles, West Bank Demerara, Region Three will not be lost.” And his reason is that the “…necessary measures will be implemented to replicate the function of the mangroves and provide same.” The Minister is right on track, and he is not voicing anything strange or novel.

In fact, what is deemed “Coastal Engineering” is nothing new, and its history goes back to well over 100 years. For example, in the Mediterranean, harbour jetties/breakwaters were constructed by Egyptians, Phoenicians, Greeks, Etruscans, and Romans as far back as 30BC.

Oceanographic studies record that, in 1911, a Royal Commission on Coast Erosion and Afforestation investigated the state of coastal erosion and the resulting protection measures carried out in the U.K. In this regard, seawall designs have been greatly modified, accommodating structures such as groynes to new solutions such as submerged structures.

Right here in Guyana, groynes were originally installed along the coastline back in 1915 to prevent undermining of the promenade seawall. We know that groynes interrupt wave action, and so protect beaches from being washed away.

Therefore, at no time would Guyana’s sea defence be compromised by the displacing of mangroves, as there are many tested and tried alternatives. In the present situation, it was explained by Public Works Minister Juan Edghill, “…that the developer, TriStar Incorporated, owned by Guyanese-born Krishna Persaud, has included “hard structures that will be built to mitigate flooding” and protect properties from flooding, in the engineering design. In fact, the developer “…has provided documentation, drawings, engineering designs and everything, of how the development will take place, and what will be the measure in place for flood prevention ….”

The idea then that some silent and clandestine destruction is about to descend on Guyana is preposterous. TriStar, when all is said and done, will create some 150 jobs for Guyanese, which is what progress is all about; that is, “taking less and converting it into more.”

Yours truly,
Alvin Hamilton