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First of its kind trust fund launched to protect intact tropical ecosystems of Guyana

Courtesy of Conservation International, photo by John Martin - Kaieteur Falls, Guyana
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The Guyanese government today launched a US$8.5 million trust fund called the Conservation Trust Fund, the first of its kind for the country. The fund will provide long-term financing for the management of Guyana’s intact protected areas system (PAS) and will support efforts by the government, along with local communities, to manage the country’s PAS. The fund was established in part to recognize the outstanding contribution of the PAS initiative for Guyana, the region and the world.

Financing for the trust comes from the German government through their development bank, KfW, which provided US$5 million with another US$3.5 million coming from Conservation International’s (CI) Global Conservation Fund, made possible by a grant from the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation.

According to Honorable Robert M. Persaud, Guyana’s Minister of Natural Resources and the Environment, “Guyana is globally recognized for its unique biodiversity and for having one of the lowest deforestation rates in the developing world. We have recently made significant strides in establishing a national protected areas system as a tool to conserve this natural heritage, while at the same time contributing to our sustainable development. The creation of the Conservation Trust Fund, and the commitments made by Germany and CI’s Global Conservation Fund, therefore represents an important piece of this puzzle, as it offers a valid option for the long-term, sustainable financing of Guyana’s protected areas."

The trust fund will greatly enhance Guyana’s conservation efforts by supporting the on-the-ground efforts for the country’s protected areas including the implementation of management and monitoring plans and funding for park rangers and scientific research.

Guyana established its national PAS with the passing of the national Protected Areas Act in July 2011. This was quickly followed by the November 2011 creation of two new protected areas: the Kanuku Mountain Protected Area located in southwestern Guyana, and the Shell Beach Protected Area, which is located along the country’s northwest coast. These two areas joined the existing Kaieteur National Park and Iwokrama Rainforest Reserve as well as the Konashen Community Owned Conservation Area, which now means that almost 9 percent of Guyana’s ecosystems are protected.

Protected areas are also a key component of Guyana’s green economy, as described in its national Low Carbon Development Strategy (LCDS). The LCDS seeks to promote low-carbon economic development using revenues generated through the maintenance of the climate and biodiversity assets found in the country’s intact ecosystems, such as forest carbon offsets, primarily located in the areas that the new fund will help to conserve. The trust fund, along with the creation of a national system of protected areas, will ensure long-term conservation of tropical forests and other ecosystems and help maintain critical carbon stock.

Dr. Russell Mittermeier, President of Conservation International said: “This is a major achievement for Guyana. It represents a long-term commitment to conserving the country’s unique biodiversity and forest resources, and recognizing them as central to the success of the Low Carbon Development Strategy that the country has embarked upon.” He stressed that, “Guyana is one of the very few places in the world where one can still find such huge areas of intact wilderness, which represent the country’s renewable natural capital and will enable Guyana to develop a model green economy for the future. The Conservation Trust Fund will help to provide the financial support necessary to ensure the protection of critical ecosystems and to ensure that they continue to provide the wide range of ecosystem services necessary for the long-term well-being of Guyana’s people.”

More than 90 percent of Guyana’s natural wealth remains intact including tropical forests, wetlands, rivers, shrub and grassland savannahs. In addition, Guyana’s ecosystems harbor a range of extraordinary environmental values such as offering natural protection to the wealth of biodiversity and producing enormous volumes of fresh water that make it the fourth most water-rich country in the world. The country’s tropical ecosystems, especially its forests, contribute irreplaceably to ensuring a stable global climate. These tropical ecosystems also provide a number of local, national and global benefits.

Stefan Schlueter, the German Ambassador in Trinidad and Tobago, accredited to Guyana, in explaining the significance of the process of setting up the Trust Fund stated, “The recent achievements in the establishment of the Guyana Protected Areas System represent a compelling example of joint collaboration between national governments, international nongovernmental organizations and official development assistance under the umbrella of a comprehensive national policy. The German government is looking forward to further support this process.” 

Peter Hilliges, head of the Competence Center for Agriculture and Natural Resource Management in KfW said, “The development of sustainable and innovative financing mechanisms for nature conservation are worldwide a crucial challenge in order to ensure that also future generations can benefit from the beauty and services provided by protected areas. The establishment of the Conservation Trust Fund is a fundamental step towards this sustainability. KfW with its current and future support will help to further develop and broaden the scope of this financial mechanism.” 

By December, the trust fund will be rolled into the statutory National Protected Areas Trust Fund under Guyana’s Protected Areas Act. Meanwhile, the next several months will be spent convening stakeholder consultations to develop the strategic and operational plan, which will guide the operation and grant-making portfolio of the trust fund for the years ahead. This effort will included development of a  fundraising strategy in order to attract more national and international donors to jointly support the conservation of Guyana’s abundant biodiversity and nature.   

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Learn more at: www.conservation.org/guyana 

About Conservation International (CI)—Building upon a strong foundation of science, partnership and field demonstration, CI empowers societies to responsibly and sustainably care for nature, our global biodiversity, for the long term well-being of people. Founded in 1987 and marking its 25th anniversary in 2012, CI has headquarters in the Washington DC area, and 900 employees working in nearly 30 countries on four continents, plus 1,000+ partners around the world.  For more information, please visit at www.conservation.org , or on Facebook or Twitter. 

Global Conservation Fund (GCF)—Conservation International's GCF finances the creation, expansion and long-term management of protected areas. Made possible by a grant from the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, GCF provides financial and strategic assistance to enable local communities, nongovernmental organizations and governments to protect their biological riches. 

Related Link: http://www.conservation.org/newsroom/pressreleases/Pages/Trust-Fund-Protect-Guyana-Forests.aspx