Guyana’s leadership in forest management and climate change highlighted at opening of $60M mangrove centre

The opening of the first-of-its-kind Mangrove Centre at the National Agricultural Research and Extension Institute (NAREI) marks a significant milestone in Guyana’s commitment to preserving and nurturing its natural resources. This $60 million facility, dedicated to showcasing the importance of the country’s mangrove ecosystem, serves as a testament to Guyana’s continued leadership in forest management and climate change.

Speaking at the opening ceremony on Friday, Prime Minister Brigadier (Ret’d) Mark Phillips emphasised the importance of the centre, stating that it will not only raise national awareness about the vital role mangroves play, but also pave the way for a comprehensive initiative to educate students, researchers, and the public.

Prime Minister Brigadier (Ret’d) Mark Phillips

This groundbreaking project, born from a partnership between the Guyana Conservation Initiative (GCI) and Iwokrama, with funding from the ExxonMobil Foundation, stands as a testament to the nation’s commitment to sustainability.

The Mangrove Centre boasts a library, exhibition room, presentation hall, storage room, office, kitchenette, and other amenities, the centre serves as a comprehensive resource for students, researchers, and the public to delve into the crucial role of mangroves in our ecosystem.

Against the backdrop of Guyana’s participation in the ongoing COP28 in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Prime Minister Phillips highlighted that the opening is a culmination of diligent efforts and strategic planning.

“As we embark on this journey, it is heartening to witness the convergence of minds, the collaboration of talent and the shared vision for a healthier, greener future. Guyana’s mangroves are a global asset. Mangroves, with their unique ecosystem, are of parallel ecological significance and are vital in mitigating climate change.

This mangrove centre will serve as the hub for researchers to pool their knowledge and to advance knowledge in this area. Mangrove restoration and management will continue to be a critical component of Guyana’s Coastal Zone Management Strategy,” PM Phillips underscored.

He also highlighted the government’s unwavering dedication to the protection, sustainable management, and restoration of unique ecosystems like mangroves. Recognising their critical role in coastal protection and climate change mitigation, Guyana incorporated this commitment into its transformative Low Carbon Development Strategy (LCDS) 2030 and the newly established National Mangrove Action Plan.

Further, the historic sale of carbon credits to the Hess Corporation cemented Guyana’s position as the first country to receive such payment, solidifying international recognition for its commitment to forest preservation.

Meanwhile, Minister of Agriculture, Zulfikar Mustapha underlined that the mangrove information centre symbolises the government’s acknowledgement and dedication to the mangrove ecosystem’s global importance and conservation.

Minister of Agriculture, Zulfikar Mustapha

“The Mangrove Information Centre isn’t just, as I said, a building, it is a testament to our commitment to safeguarding our mangroves, preserving our heritage and securing our future…More than just a space for learning of the mangrove information centre is a call for collective action. It is a hub where knowledge meets action, where innovation nurtures conservation and where collaboration paves the way for a sustainable future,” Minister Mustapha stressed.

The agriculture minister also highlighted that Guyana has invested $200 million towards mangrove restoration in 2023 in various projects.

He noted that the public awareness support provided through GCI has contributed significantly to increasing national awareness and shared commitment to the conservation of mangroves in Guyana.

Country Manager for Public and Government Affairs at ExxonMobil Guyana, Matthew Scharf and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Iwokrama, Dane Gobin also delivered remarks.

NAREI’s CEO, Jagnarine Singh, Managing Director of Environmental Management Consultants (EMC), Shyam Nokta, British High Commissioner to Guyana, Jane Miller, Project Coordinator of the Mangrove Centre at NAREI, Kean Moseley, Guyana’s icon, Dave Martin, tour guide representatives, other officials and staff of the ministry were also at the event.