Surinamese minister accuses Guyana of destroying mangrove plantation

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Rabin Parmessar - ST_DetailfotoParamaribo – Minister Rabin Parmessar of Public Works (OW) seems to have set his sight on constructing a dike along the coast from Weg naar Zee to Leonsberg, plans that have been hatched by former Minister Ramon Abrahams.

Last week Parmessar announced he is already planning construction of the dike, but Leonard Johanns, director of Suriname Conservation Foundation (SCF), warns, however, not follow in Guyana’s footsteps.

The neighboring country will get financial help from European Union (EU) and technical assistance from Surinamese professor Sieuwnath Naipa. The Guyana coastline, similarly to that of Suriname, is below sea level, reason why the Guyanese have built a dike for protection. However, the sea cannot seem to be tamed so the dike is continuously flooded. ‘Now they have called in the help of Professor Naipal, to instruct them on protective vegetation just he like does in the District of Coronie. Mangrove vegetation has an ecological and economic function next to protection against a rising sea level. Guyana has been removing its mangrove vegetation in the past decades, resulting in a dangerous situation. The land now lies one meter below sea level. The Guyanese have come to see the light, however, and are trying desperately to replant their mangrove vegetation.

Proof

‘Replanting the natural coast protection cost less than building a dike and it is in fact better than the dike,’ Johanns says. Both options will cost time and money, but a dike needs maintenance, while the natural vegetation planted by Naipal in Coronie shows that it is able to restore itself. ‘The parts along the Weg naar Zee Leonsberg coastline, where people have destroyed the vegetation, can be restored almost automatically.

Mangrove vegetation has a double function. While dikes form an obstacle for certain marine life Mangrove seems to form a nursing room. Johanna refers to Guyana that has closed off the wetlands from sea, barring new sea life from hatching. The wetlands also form a natural reservoir for rainwater, so they form an important part of the eco-system that should be kept intact in view of climate change.

Johanns is convinced that land along the coastline should never have been issued. ‘It is not suited to live there,’ he says. Whatever decision is taken, the land will never be free of problems.-.

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