Increasing coastal resilience and social development opportunities: Guyana Mangrove Restoration Project (GMRP)
by Kene Moseley
National Agricultural Research & Extension Institute
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.