Guyana receives GY$9.2M grant to assist in protected areas management

Georgetown, Guyana – (October 19, 2017) The Protected Areas Commission (PAC), this morning, received a GY$9.2M grant from the Protected Areas Trust (PAT), through funding from Conservation International (CI) and the Government of Germany, which is expected to help with the effective management of Guyana’s protected areas. The Grant Agreement was signed at a simple ceremony held at the Jenman House, Botanical Gardens between the PAC and the PAT.

The PAT is a Trust Fund established to provide financing for National Protected Areas System in Guyana through the Protected Areas Act 2011. The Protected Areas Trust Fund (PATF) is functioning primarily as an endowment fund to preserve the capital while investing globally to earn annual returns of approximately five percent. Protected Area Trust Funds are private, legally independent grant-making institutions that provide sustainable financing for biodiversity conservation and often finance part of the long-term management costs of a country‘s protected area system.

Vice Chairman of the Board of Trustees for the PAT, Mr. Ben Ver Welle said that since its establishment in 2015, this is the first time that the Protected Areas Commission will be able to benefit from the income of the Trust. The funding, he said, comes from a partnership with Conservation International (CI) and the Government of Germany, which was cemented three years ago. He noted that the signing of this Agreement inaugurates the life-long relationship between the PAC, which is mandated to manage National Protected Areas Systems (NPAS) in Guyana.

“Conservation International and the German Government had made available in total, US$8.5M three years ago to support the management of the protected areas in Guyana and today is the first time that the Protected Areas Commission will have benefits from the Trust Fund. Government up to now is paying 100 percent of the costs of the Protected Areas and the Government will still have to support the PAC for a number of years more but we are starting now and we hope that we can interest more people because we want a very good protected areas system in Guyana,” he said.

The project, “The effective management of Guyana’s Protected Areas System” for which the grant has been approved, covers all three of the PAC managed protected areas; the Kaieteur National Park (KNP), Kanuku Mountains Protected Area (KMPA) and Shell Beach Protected Area (SBPA). The funds will be used to hire rangers for the implementation of the KMPA Management Plan, develop drawings and bills of quantity for the construction of infrastructure at KMPA and facilitate an overflight of KMPA to assess potential illegal logging and mining activities. The grant will also support the printing and dissemination of management plans to relevant stakeholders for Shell Beach and KNP and will be used to support protected area management capacity building projects in communities around the KNP, as well as water quality monitoring for the preservation of the biodiversity in that area.

Commissioner of the PAC, Ms. Denise Fraser said that the event is significant one for the Commission as it represents a list of activities, which can now be carried out to aid the organisation in the effective management of the protected areas across the country.

“The PAC has the mandate to manage, maintain and promote and expand the National Protected Areas System and our mission is to effectively manage Guyana’s national protected areas while ensuring that they continue to add value to the lives of present and future generations. Adequate funding as well as a stable funding base is an important factor in achieving our mandate and mission and this is recognised in the PAC’s strategic plan, which includes financing as a key strategic area. Up to this point, the PAC has been mainly dependent on the yearly budgetary allocations from Government to cover operations costs and there are times when that funding would not adequately cover everything that we need to do in order to effectively manage the existing protected areas,” she said.

Ms. Fraser explained that a proposal was made to the PAT to help with some of the activities that would have been constrained due to the limited budgetary allocations for operational costs. “We are very happy to receive this grant because not only will it help us with the activities that we had planned but could not do because of funding constraints but it also adds to the funding available for the protected areas of Guyana,” the Commissioner said.

Head of the Department of the Environment, Ms. Ndibi Schwiers said that she is pleased that the PAC is able to benefit from the PAT, given the important role it plays in protecting the country’s national patrimony.

“Our protected areas is a source of rich biodiversity. They provide also eco-system services and these areas serve as a heritage for all Guyanese. I am pleased that there exists a dedicated form of funding for protected areas management in the country. It is my expectation that this is going to be the first of many and we look forward to continued collaboration to ensure that the vision of the President is not only realised but to ensure that our national patrimony is properly managed,” she said.

President Granger has announced that as part of Guyana’s contribution to the protection of the environment and the fight against climate change, an additional two million hectares of land will be converted into protected areas. Ms. Schwiers said that this will require resources to be effectively managed and as such, the funding has come at an opportune time.