WWF supports the call for the more systematic sharing of knowledge, work experiences, successes and challenges across the Guiana Shield
On April 22, 2016, in a landmark address to the United Nations, Guyana’s President, H.E. David A. Granger pledged to dedicate an additional two million hectares of Guyana’s land and waterways for conservation. WWF Guianas is supporting the Protected Areas Commission (PAC) to develop their capacity to manage existing and new PAs. Towards that end, WWF, with the support of the Andes Amazon Fund and in cooperation with the Parc Amazonian de Guyana (PAG), organized a seven-person PAC delegation to participate in a weeklong exchange in French Guyana. In route, they also visited Raleigh Falls in the 1.6 million hectare Central Suriname Nature Reserve, to see the infrastructure that was put in place there during the mid-2000s under a project led by Chuck Hutchinson, then with Conservation International and now managing WWF’s PA program in Guyana.
The purpose of this exchange visit is to show PAC tangible examples for PA management and expand their knowledge and capacity toward the creation of protected areas. The weeklong exchange includes visits to a number of protected areas, including the 3.3 million hectare Parc Amazonien in French Guiana.
The three Guianas share significant similarities in geographical area, population dynamics, economic activities and ecosystem diversity; they also share the highest per capita forest cover in the world. The Guianas also face common, and often interconnected threats to their biodiversity, and grapple with many of the same issues, including land allocation, mining, watershed management and indigenous rights. In facing these issues, each country has developed a suite of different, but potentially complementary, tools and approaches.
In spite of these striking similarities, there is very little exchange of Protected Areas knowledge and information between the Guiana Shield countries, with virtually no interaction between conservation professionals in Guyana and French Guiana. The establishment of Parc Amazonien in 2007, directly adjacent to Brazil’s Tumucumaque National Park, created the largest protected rainforest in the world. Over the subsequent ten years, the Park has focussed its significant technical and financial resources on addressing many of the same issues currently facing Guyana’s National Protected Areas System. The Parc Amazonien has taken a very pragmatic approach to management and multiple-use, and has developed innovative tools to promote community engagement and collaborative management. These tools include management and user agreements with the communities and municipalities that share the park. The Protected Areas Commission (PAC) also has significant experience in protected areas planning, community-engagement processes and other recently developed approaches that could be shared.
WWF supports the call for the more systematic sharing of knowledge, work experiences, successes and challenges across the Guiana Shield. In the tradition of our long history of technical support and cooperation, WWF Guianas offers to facilitate and support the PAC to undertake, as a first step, a study tour and technical exchange with our partners at the Parc Amazonien.
This proposed visit and knowledge exchange is not just timely from a capacity building perspective, but also coincides with the expected commencement of the Parc Amazonien initiated project, “Strengthening the Network of Protected Areas in the Guiana Shield and their contributions to sustainable development in respect of local cultures, values and lifestyles”. We understand this project is expected to be launched in early 2018. The visit would see a technical team from the PAC hosted at the Parc Amazonien, with the opportunity to engage in discussions with communities, rangers, managers, and other partners.
Photo: © WWF Guianas