February 25, 2018

Promoting ‘wise management’ of Guyana’s ecosystem

The Guyana Society for Biodiversity and Ecosystems (GSBE) is a non-governmental, charitable, non-profit body established to promote conservation, research and wise management of biological diversity and ecosystems in Guyana and the wider Guiana Shield through its affiliation with partner associations in the region.

A few members of GSBE

About 16 years ago, the conceptualisation of the region-wide Guiana Shield biodiversity movement occurred at a Priority Setting Workshop in Paramaribo, Suriname. The meeting involved a dedicated group of scientists from the International Conservation Union of the Netherlands (IUCN), Conservation International Guyana (CI-Guyana) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). One of the key decisions taken at the meeting was that a biennial congress on biodiversity of the Guiana Shield should be held along with the establishment an IBG. To date four congresses were held, the last being in Guyana in August, 2015.
At the Third Congress IBG Congress held in Paramaribo, Suriname in 2013, a decision was taken that the Fourth Congress would be held in Guyana to coincide with the country’s 50th independence anniversary. The decision to host the IV Congress in Guyana led to the formation of a Local Organizing Committee (LOC) and subsequently Guyana Society for Biodiversity and Ecosystem (GSBE). In essence, therefore, the GSBE is an outgrowth of the IBG and the work it had put in place.
Currently, GSBE is involved in two projects. The Triple A Initiative Project, which involves collaboration with the Guiana Shield countries (Colombia, Peru, Ecuador, Venezuela, Brazil, Guyana, Suriname and Fr. Guiana), is intended to focus on the sociological/ anthropological/environmental issues affecting primarily indigenous communities. Secondly, conducting a preliminary survey of research on the status of freshwater ecosystems in Guyana. The purpose of this study is to provide a background for a much larger study on freshwater in collaboration with other stakeholders in Guyana.

GSBE members promoting its conservation work at the IV IBG Congress 2016 – Guyana

In an interview with Sunday Times Magazine, GSBE’s Chairman, Dr. Patrick Williams, said the organisation was established to achieve the following: Host the IV IBG Congress in Guyana in 2015; develop partnership with local, regional and international organisations in pursuit of biodiversity conservation; conduct fundraising activities to further the work of GSBE; embrace and support nationally-driven initiatives with respect biodiversity and other related conservation initiatives; provide support for education and awareness initiatives in the area of biodiversity conservation; undertake joint research initiatives with partners and disseminate information on biodiversity; support regional initiatives on biodiversity in the context of the wider Guiana Shield region; and provide leadership nationally in the area of biodiversity conservation.
“Our membership is quite small, but it is our intention to expand on this as one of our priorities for 2018. Because we believe that biodiversity conservation does not begin and end with scientists only, GSBE is focused on establishing a multi-disciplinary and interdisciplinary organisation. This would include natural scientists, social scientists and others that bring together biologists (flora and fauna specialists), geographers (geomorphologists, climatologists, social scientists (anthropologists, sociologists et al). Additionally, membership of GSBE is open to university students, practicing scientists, and organisations. There is also room for associate membership. Membership comes with the completion of a membership form and an annual fee which varies depending upon the category of membership,” Williams explained.
Over the years GSBE has hosted a highly successful congress in 2015 where over 125 scientific papers were presented by from all across the Guiana Shield and beyond; published a book of abstracts covering the presentations made at the IV Congress, including speeches from His Excellency Brigadier David Arthur Granger and keynote speakers; participated in a number of regional environmental conservation initiatives, one of which led to the development of the Kurupukari Action Plan, which also provided proposal for regional collaboration and conservation initiatives; ongoing collaboration with partners in the Guiana Shield on the development of a project proposal referred to as the Triple A Initiative (Andes/Amazon/Atlantic); and funded a desk review project on the status of Guyana’s freshwater ecosystem.
GSBE is currently assisting in the preparation of documents, as is the case of the other countries, in support of the development of a project proposal that is expected to attract a ten-year funding cycle on indigenous issues for the region.
The organisation hopes to increase collaboration with other organisations with interests in biodiversity conservation; forge greater regional and international links; undertake vigorous fund-raising activities; increase the profile of the organisation, actively participate in special designated events such as World Environment Day and World Biodiversity Day; play a greater role in promoting biodiversity education and awareness; and collaborate with various stakeholders in pursuit of Guyana’s Green Development Agenda.
For more information on the organisation’s work, visit Guyana Society for Biodiversity and Ecosystems on Facebook. (Guyana Times Sunday Magazine)