Iwokrama » Research
Research is clearly identified in Iwokrama’s mission as one of the means of achieving conservation and sustainable utilisation of our forests.
“To promote the conservation and the sustainable and equitable use of tropical rain forests in a manner that will lead to lasting ecological, economic and social benefits to the people of Guyana and to the world in general, by undertaking research, training, and the development and dissemination of technologies.”
The first phase of Iwokrama’s research focused on the collection of baseline information to help inform management planning for the forest: zoning of the forest, forest management and monitoring. Many biodiversity surveys were conducted in the wider Guianas area. However, there were also several specific projects that encapsulated other issues, including bio-prospecting (entophytic fungi), forest utilisation, wetlands, marketing and social research.
Currently, Iwokrama is engaged in a number of projects that fit well within the IIC’s continuing research agenda goals. The three largest projects comprise the Forest Research Network; the Guiana Shield Initiative; and a programme focused on capacity building to support national initiatives in reducing deforestation and degradation in Guyana. The first project is funded by the European Commission and the Centre for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) EU-ACP Forestry Research Network Project the second by the European Union, the Dutch Government, the UN Development Programme (UNDP) and the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Netherlands Committee; and the third by the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation.
These three projects have begun to take research at Iwokrama in a new direction, building on the baseline information and providing a new focus and a more holistic approach covering all aspects of the ecosystem services that forests provide. The challenge now is to establish an overall research framework that will allow the valuable work carried out in these and future projects to contribute in a coordinated way towards:
- The enhancement of the internationally-recognised fundamental science needed to achieve greater understanding of the ecosystem services provided by the Iwokrama forest and to establish how vulnerable they are to stress, particularly from climate change;
- Developing capabilities for quantifying and valuing ecosystem services, and assessing impacts of different possible future economic or climate scenarios and consequently the sustainability of forest management practices;
- Providing long-term monitoring of forest cover, climate, hydrology, and biodiversity, giving evidence for changes in ecosystem services; and
- Supporting training and capacity building in the region to continue to develop and deliver these functions in the long term.
Iwokrama’s new prestigious International Science Committee (ISC), with membership drawn from Guyana, the Caribbean, Europe and the United States, was formed earlier this year to advise the trustees on this new approach to research and to help implement it, together with other key stakeholders.