Guyana approves new bill to safeguard its natural heritage

Posted on 19 July 2011

Guyana: After years of lobbying, a new bill has been approved which will improve protection of Guyana’s biodiversity.

On July 7 the Protected Areas (PAs) Bill was debated upon and approved by all parties sitting in the national assembly.

With the passage of the legislation an announcement for new protected areas in Guyana is now anticipated. These new PAs would bring the country closer to the requirement of the International Convention of Biological Diversity (CBD) to which it is a signatory.

WWF Guianas and other environmental organizations in Guyana and globally have been pushing for the passage of this bill for several years.

In February this year WWF US CEO Carter Roberts, and Members of WWF US’s Board of Directors visited Guyana and the PA bill was one of the topics high on the agenda for discussion with Guyana’s President Bharrat Jagdeo.

Protecting Guyana’s natural heritage

The Bill provides “for the protection and conservation of Guyana’s natural heritage and natural capital; the creation, management and financing of a national system of protected areas …”.

Additionally this piece of legislation aims to advance the recovery and rehabilitation of degraded areas and to recognise conservation efforts of Amerindian communities. The newly approved Bill also requires the establishment of a PA Commission and PA Trust Fund, both of which are an integral part of developing an effective, efficient and sustainably managed PA system in Guyana.

The establishment of a PA commission is intended to improve the institutional capacity for the management of PAs in Guyana while the Trust Fund provides for financial support to existing and new protected areas.

Under this legislation the PA Commissioner, within one year of his/her appointment, must present a "system plan" which must include a vision, conservation goals and priorities and describe threats to the conservation of biodiversity.

Finally a programme for obtaining international recognition for national protected areas, monitoring and evaluation, and the costs and investment needs and priorities for the NPAS should be set out.
The new bill is expected to lead to more protected areas in the Guianas region.
© WWF Guianas

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President Bharrat Jagdeo and WWF US CEO Carter Roberts (right) at a meeting in Guyana in February.
© Bruce Cabarle