By Kurt Campbell
[www.inewsguyana.com] – A new Protected Areas Commission (PAC) building is complete and ready for occupancy and was commissioned on Tuesday evening (April 29) by Natural Resources and Environment Minister Robert Persaud, Prime Minister (acting President) Samuel Hinds and German Ambassador to Guyana Stephan Schluter.
The building cost approximately $30M and is named after German Geographer and Surveyor Robert Schomburgk, who was responsible for initially setting up Guyana’s boundaries. The building will also house the Ministry’s Litter Warden Unit and the Three Parks Initiative.
At the event, the Environment Minister pointed out that it is not just about building offices, it is about transforming the way people view the environment and its role in development as communities, as a nation and as citizens of the earth.
He noted that it was a pleasure and honour to commission the new Protected Areas Commission office, the first national-level institution for protected areas management in Guyana.
He said the abundance and uniqueness of Guyana’s natural resources have long been recognized as important features of Guyana’s heritage and the commitment to protect and improve these resources is enshrined in the Constitution of Guyana.
Guyana signed the United Nations Convention on biodiversity, passed the landmark Protected Areas Act of 2011 and also subscribes to a parks-with-people approach to protected areas.
“For us in the Government, protected areas are not just important tools for the conservation of biodiversity, but are a key piece of the sustainable development puzzle,” Persaud said.
He added that the launching of the Protected Areas Commission building represents yet another important step in the Ministry’s journey as it recognize that effectively managed urban parks and hinterland protected areas provide important services, such as the maintenance of essential water supplies and climate change mitigation and adaptation.
In 2004, Germany and Guyana implemented the €2.56M Guyana Protected Areas System (GPAS) Project. Referred to as GPAS Phase I, this project supported sustainable livelihood projects in over thirty Amerindian communities associated with Shell Beach, Kanuku Mountains, Kaieteur National Park and the Upper Mazaruni.
This initiative also led to the drafting of the National Protected Areas Act, delineation plans for both the Kanuku Mountains and Shell Beach Protected Areas, and a draft Kanuku Mountains Management Plan.
“Our partnership with Germany, which represents one of the only bilateral cooperation agreements in the Caribbean, is now into a Euro 5.15M Phase II of GPAS, with Euro 4M serving as an endowment to the Protected Areas Trust Fund, while the remaining funds are being utilized for the establishment of the Protected Areas Commission offices, and the development of management plans and infrastructure in key protected areas. We now look forward to the continuation of this partnership under GPAS III, through which we hope to pioneer new approaches in biodiversity conservation and low-carbon, climate resilient development,” Persaud said.
Meanwhile, the German Ambassador said the venture highlights the trusted and close partnership between the two countries and its fight to mitigate the effects of climate change.
He said his government is looking to strengthen cooperation with Guyana and its protected areas system.