Lakeram Haynes

Lakeram Haynes

North Rupununi District Development Board
North Rupununi, Guyana

Nature’s “Shopping Centre”

Amerindian concerns on the preservation of the Essequibo River ecosystems

January 28, 2013

Part of the COBRA staff participated to the last North Rupununi District Development Board (NRDDB) first Statutory Board Meeting that was held on the 10th and 11th January 2013 at Bina Hill Institute.

Project COBRA – Creative Commons

The Team started the year by attending the North Rupununi District Development Board (NRDDB) first statutory meeting for the year held on the 10th and 11th January 2013 at Bina Hill Institute. A numbers of concerns were raised by the leaders for the various communities. One of the major concerns brought to the attention of the Board by the ARC communities, namely: Apoteri , Rewa, Crash Water – which Conservation International, Guyana has worked with closely over the past several years – was the fate of the recently returned forest site known as the Upper Essequibo Conservation Concession to the Guyana Forestry Commission. The Conservation Concession was an experimental conservation strategy devised by CI-G, where the forest could be kept intact while the Government received royalties for the land as it normally would with an operational timber concession. However, with the passage of the Protected Areas Act and the declaration of the first two protected areas – Shell Beach Protected Area and Kanuku Mountains Protected Area – CI-G could no longer justify this strategy as a viable conservation solution. The fear of these Village Leaders that this once conservation concession would be converted to an operational forestry or mining concession and what they believe is a sensitive biodiverse area would be destroyed with these commercial activities.

CI-G, at a previous Board Meeting, indicated that their recent discussions with the three communities about their decision and what could be a next step reported the communities’ desire to see the site continue under some form of protection. Their exploration of this idea however, appear to be unlikely. The leaders present at the NRDDB January 2013 meeting, however, agreed that the NRDDB should take up the challenge and seek advice and support through various avenues to have the former conservation concession, maintain a conservation status. The communities felt that given the awarding of one of the largest exploratory forestry concessions in Guyana within the immediate location, the site should be maintained as a safe haven for the fauna and a potential site for comparative research between the forestry concession and the conservation site. The communities are also concerned about the potential negative impacts of the forestry activities and potential mining could have on the Essequibo and Rewa Rivers as these are two main waterways the communities are dependent on for their domestic use. It is therefore the wishes of the people that thoughtful initiatives be put forward to preserve this sensitive biodiversity area which the indigenous people have being existing with for a number of years as their “shopping centre”.

 

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