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The Iwokrama Story


The Iwokrama Story

Iwokrama plans for the next 20 years
– Progress in setting up Biodiversity Research Centre key this year

The Iwokrama International Centre (IIC) is currently developing its vision for the next 20 years with a view to become the cornerstone of Guyana’s green development strategy. Over the years, Iwokrama has provided many services and benefits to Guyanese including training and capacity building programmes.

During his first visit to the Centre’s High Street, Kingston, Georgetown head office, the President congratulated the staff for the work they are doing with minimal resources. He declared that Iwokrama is central to the government’s vision of creating a “green” state and as such he would continue to support the work of the Centre.

The Centre has also brought many accolades to Guyana including:

  • 2006: 111 persons trained as rangers and tour-guides and in areas including protected area management and collaborative management
  • 2007: Model low-impact sustainable timber harvesting operation started in the Iwokrama Forest.
  • 2008 and 2016: Iwokrama Forest Certified by Forest Stewardship Council for Forest Management
  • 2008: First inland fisheries management system – the Arapaima Management Plan developed with the North Rupununi for Guyana. Formally gazetted by the Ministry of Agriculture.
  • 2009: Iwokrama collaborates with NGOs, Local Communities and Government to develop community manual on Climate Change and the Role of Forests; more than 400 community members and private and public sector representatives trained
  • 2011: Iwokrama partnered with Global Canopy Programme and NRDDB to launch innovative Community Monitoring, Reporting and Verification (MRV) System
  • 2015: Iwokrama launched second phase of its sustainable timber harvesting and sawmilling operations with a local private sector partner.
  • 2016: UK lifts ban in October on Guyana’s Greenheart by approving FSC™ wood from the Iwokrama Forest

The Centre will be built in the Iwokrama Forest which lies in the green heart of Guyana. The forest, measuring approximately 1 million acres, was pledged by President Desmond Hoyte to the international community at the 1989 Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting for purposes of research into sustainable management and development of tropical rain forests. Said Dane Gobin, Chief Executive Officer of the Iwokrama Centre: “When former President Desmond Hoyte offered this tract of land to be used by the international community in the study of the sustainable use of the rainforest, it was an extremely novel idea; it was innovative and ahead of its time.”

He noted, citing the continuing relevance of Iwokrama’s work, that it was only last year that the United Nations moved to include sustainable management of the rainforest and halting biodiversity loss as part of its new Sustainable Development Goals.
According to Gobin, this Goal speaks to the work of Iwokrama in developing models to show how you can use the forest without losing it and to be able to prove the premise that forests are worth more alive than dead.

He added: “We’ve been able to integrate people, science and business to generate these models, because the rainforest provides services for people – at the community, local, regional and international levels.

“Guyanese look to the rainforest for livelihoods in forestry, mining, tourism and other uses. A country with 80% of its land being under forest cover has to find a way to balance conservation and sustainable and wise use. Complete protection or irresponsible use are not options.
“The asset we have in Guyana is this huge rainforest with all its natural assets and biodiversity value – floral and faunal. How do you harness money from this great resource? The way to do it is through research.”

Mr Gobin explained that the Biodiversity Research Centre will in the first instance offer the international research community a space to conduct their research. The Centre will be a full-service facility that will include features such as laboratories, classrooms, a conference centre and accommodation together with full supporting services such as transport and restaurant facilities. Later on, the Centre will morph into a full-blown institution of learning that will offer biodiversity studies and courses to students from around the world. Funding is being sought for the Centre, which will be constructed using a biomimicry design. President David Granger is a forceful advocate for Iwokrama and its work and has pledged resources to ensure it fulfills its mission and a new board is expected to be constituted shortly.


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