EU funds massive expansion and protection of Guyana’s mangroves

EU funds massive expansion and protection of Guyana’s mangroves

The Government of Guyana and the European Union (EU) have signed a €4.6M agreement for the protection and restoration of Guyana’s mangroves over a period of four years.

Guyana’s Finance Minister, Dr Ashni Singh and the First Vice President of the European Commission, Mr Frans Timmermans signed the agreement, on Wednesday in the presence of President Irfaan Ali at State House.

President Ali said the European Union remains one of Guyana’s strongest partners in protecting the country’s sea defence systems and coastline. He added that the multi-million-euro project is testament of the EU’s commitment to ensuring that Guyana’s coast remains safe.

Over 200,000 hectares of the country’s coastal area is covered in mangroves, and suitable for mangrove expansion. 

“The expansion of the mangroves is a proven concept for climate mitigation, as mangroves store five times the carbon stock as other forest type. Because of the layout of Guyana, the mangrove is also closely integrated into the bulk of the population. So, it provides some important opportunities for livelihood option,” President Ali said.

The project, which includes the protection, restoration and monitoring of mangroves, stemmed from an agreement signed between the two sides at the Climate Change Summit in Egypt last year.

The Vice President of the European Commission said it was important for the EU to strengthen its bilateral ties with Guyana, and in doing so, support the preservation of the country’s natural resources.

“Mangroves are such huge contribution to our fight against the climate crisis. They are huge reserve of biodiversity and …it is a collective responsibility, I believe of humanity to maintain them, and strengthen them,” Mr Timmermans said.

He said the European Commission is pleased to partner with Guyana to support the protection and restoration of mangroves along its coastline.

According to the EU Official, Guyana must be given credit for striking a balance between its developmental agenda and the protection of the environment.

“The ambition of your government, Mr President, to make sure that Guyana, in its economic development, in the development of the fossil fuel industry, still maintains its high ambition for climate neutrality and for the maintenance of the natural riches, is something we want to be a part of. And I would we can elaborate, very concrete measures,” Mr Timmermans said.

Noting that development should not be at the expense of future generations, the European Commission Vice President said Guyana provides an ideal example of how countries can strike a balance.

“So, that the development has to go hand in hand with our fight against the climate crisis, with our fight against biodiversity loss, is something that I hope, we can together, showcase at the end of the year with COP28 in Dubai, where I believe the example of Guyana should be seen by the world, and I would like to be your partner in making sure, you get the opportunity in show casing this at the highest level during COP28 in Dubai,” Mr Timmermans said.

President Ali said Guyana looks forward to providing leadership at the next Climate Summit, to be held in the United Arab Emirates.

“Our entire policy architecture, and our policy framework is geared around ensuring that we are adopting the best environmental practices, and doing everything in a climate smart way in protecting the environment, advancing our natural attributes of biodiversity but more importantly, leveraging these natural assets, for improved livelihood, creating economic opportunities, and ensuring that Guyana is not only a location to showcase the natural attributes of the biodiversity, the forest and so on, but more importantly, that we are also an important destination in terms of continuing the academic work, the research, and supporting such work in the whole ecosystem surrounding the biodiversity, forest, climate change, and ensuring that we build stronger systems based on facts, and based on an understanding of the true nature of the environment,” the President said.

The mangrove project will be implemented by the National Agricultural Research and Extension Institute with support from the Ministry of Public Works and the Sea Defence Board. (Svetlana Marshall)

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