Retd. Brig. Joe Singh Heads Environmental
Conservation Body

THE Government of Guyana and Conservation International (CI) have signed an agreement acknowledging the organizationís commitment to biodiversity conservation and its role in promoting the establishment of a National Protected Areas System here.

According to the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), CI will actively engage in four key areas: - data collection and analysis, involvement of local and indigenous communities, conservation and sustainable utilization, and education and awareness.

CI Guyana will conduct biodiversity and socio-economic research, share information and cultivate relationships with partner organizations. Under the agreement, the Government agrees to involve CI in the development and review of policies, programs, and projects for conservation of biological diversity, in particular, national plans for the establishment of a Protected Areas System.

Signing the MOU at the Office of the President Wednesday were Head of the Presidential Secretariat, Dr. Roger Luncheon and Executive Director of CI-Guyana, retired Major General Joe Singh. Luncheon said the agreement with CI-Guyana is one of two MOUs that will be executed with international Non Governmental Organizations (NGOs). The other, he said, will be the World Wildlife Fund as soon as arrangements are put in place.

According to Luncheon, both MOUs reflect the determination of the administration and these bodies to combine efforts to work together to address in the broadest possible detail, the environmental issues of biodiversity and protecting the natural environment. He noted that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has assumed a lead role in many of these endeavors. He also pointed out that the Office of the President was moving to provide new leadership in the environmental sector.

Singh noted that CI has a global outreach program, encompassing nearly 30 countries including Guyana. "Our programs throughout the world are aimed at working with governments on issues of conservation, biodiversity resources, of addressing socio-economic issues, particularly those which relate to communities in direct contact with the protected areas," he said after the signing.

"We are very pleased to have this MOU because our work encompasses scientific research, collaborative arrangements, building alliances and this memorandum gives us the opportunity to tie up additional agreements with local state agencies, other NGOs operating in Guyana and also working with regional and international agencies who have the same philosophy of conservation of our biological resources and human development," he added.

In 1999, CI-Guyana was appointed by the EPA to be the lead agency in the process of establishing a proposed protected area in the vicinity of the Kanuku Mountains in southern Guyana. Apart from the Kanuku project, CI-Guyana has been awarded a State Forest Exploratory Permit, the primary stage of a Timber Sales Agreement (TSA) for a total of 200,000 acres of pristine tropical rainforest in Guyana's southern region.

CI hopes to be awarded a TSA through which the organization will use the area as a Conservation Concession, for the purpose of conserving forest ecosystems. CI's global mission is to conserve the earth's living heritage, global biodiversity and to demonstrate that human societies are able to live harmoniously with nature.

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