Protected areas

Increasing coastal resilience and social development opportunities: Guyana Mangrove Restoration Project (GMRP)

NAREI
Published: 22 February 2017
Last edited: 02 March 2017
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Summary

Recognizing the potential impact of climate change on its low-lying coastal zone, Guyana initiated a program to restore its coastal mangrove forest. This solution responds to climate change and mitigates its effects through the protection, restoration and wise use of Guyana’s mangrove ecosystems through processes that maintain their protective function, values and biodiversity while meeting the socio-economic development and environmental protection needs in estuarine and coastal areas.

Classifications

Region
South America
Ecosystem
Mangrove
Marine and coastal ecosystems
Theme
Adaptation
Coastal and marine spatial management
Erosion prevention
Forest Management
Gender mainstreaming
Mitigation
Outreach & communications
Protected area governance
Restoration
Sustainable livelihoods
Sustainable tourism
Traditional knowledge
Scale of implementation
National
Hazards addressed
Floods
Land and forest degradation
Loss of biodiversity
Salinization
Sea level rise
Storm surges
Aichi targets
Sustainable development goals

Location

Guyana, South America

Challenges

The coastal zone is protected by hard sea defense structures, mangroves, dikes and sluices. Together with an extensive drainage, irrigation and flood control network, the sea defenses make the coast habitable and cultivatable. Over the last several decades, there has been increasing pressure on the coastal zone, this combined with the loss of protective mangrove vegetation and collapse and overtopping of existing sea defenses increase flooding. Projected sea level rise poses a major threat to the coastal area and the country’s economy. Mangrove forests that once lined the entire coastline have been significantly reduced, and in many instances, lost altogether. Recognition of the importance of the role of mangroves along the coast has been enhanced by the realization that climate change is further threatening the coastline.

Beneficiaries

Single parent female-headed households Poor coastal households Farmers Fishermen Students and researchers

How do the building blocks interact?

The success of Ecological Mangrove Restoration is greatly dependent on understanding the particular site conditions that are limiting mangrove growth. This requires an understanding of the natural and social dynamics of a particular site and community involvement, therefore, becomes an integral part of the process. Community involvement is integrated into the EMR from the planning stage through implementation and monitoring. Our community-based mangrove management and alternative livelihood programs ensure sustainable management and protection of mangroves while providing economic and social benefits to local women and men. Empowering local communities to restore, protect and manage their mangroves ensures the long-term sustainability of restoration.

Impacts

Project activities resulted in the production of over 500,000 mangrove seedlings and restoration of 142ha of coastal mangrove forest. Mangrove restoration efforts were combined with the protection and management of 30 kilometers of existing fringes from further depletion due to anthropogenic activities. GMRP worked with communities to ensure they were involved at every level of the project implementation. Women are at the forefront of this initiative, making up more that 80% percent of the community participation. Women are empowered as environmental leaders and were trained to be leaders in their communities, disseminating information about the importance of mangroves and the need to protect and restore coastal mangrove forest. Training programs focused on the various initiatives implemented by the project, such as education, tourism, entrepreneurship and mangrove management. Over 50 women were trained to cultivate mangrove seedlings in community nurseries. These 250,000 seedlings were sold for coastal planting and earned the women involved a total of USD 115,000. Through beekeeping and tourism training, women formed the Mangrove Reserve Producers Cooperative Society, which now provides training to poor coastal women interested in beekeeping. Along with providing income through honey generation, this activity helps to promote additional mangrove growth and protection.

Story

NAREI
As Guyana continues on its development path, a key element to the sustainable management of our natural resources is to combine conservation of natural resources with livelihood opportunities for the local communities that depend on these resources. GMRP has been able to successfully combine mangrove protection and restoration with livelihood opportunities for coastal communities. The Golden Grove to Belfield Mangrove Heritage Trail Tour and Mangrove Reserve Producers Coop Society are examples of community led mangrove management. One of the Project’s initiatives was to create a tourism product which linked the rich history of five communities on Guyana’s East Coast with environmental education about the importance of coastal mangroves and the unique ecosystem it supports. Members of the five communities were trained as tour guides and now conduct tours which allow tourists to learn of mangrove conservation while enjoying the heritage of these villages (Victoria was the first village in Guyana that was bought by freed slaves), bird watching in the mangrove forest, drumming and folk singing. The Tour now facilitates over 500 visitors per year from a range of backgrounds including students, researchers and local and foreign tourists. Visitors can also purchase ‘mangrove honey’ from the members of the Mangrove Reserve Producers Coop Society. The producers, who are mainly women, were provided with technical and financial support through beekeeping training and provision of equipment as well as marketing and packaging. The Coop members are also members of the Village Mangrove Acton Committee and volunteer their time to raise awareness among villagers and schools about the importance of mangroves and the need to protect this unique forest.

Contributed by

Kene Moseley

National Agricultural Research & Extension Institute
The overall objective of the NAREI's Mangrove Restoration and Management Programme is to respond to climate change and mitigate its effects through the protection, restoration, conservation and management of Guyana’s coastal mangrove ecosystem. This will be accomplished through the implementation of strategies that maintain their protective function, values and biodiversity while meeting the socio-economic development and environmental protection needs of coastal areas.

Contributors

National Agricultural Research & Extension Institute
National Agricultural Research & Extension Institute