President David Granger today pledged his continued commitment to the Iwokrama International Centre, which is marking 21 years since it was created through an Act of Parliament.
During his first visit to the Centre’s High Street, Kingston, Georgetown head office, the President congratulated the staff for the work they are doing with minimal resources. He declared that Iwokrama is central to the government’s vision of creating a “green” state and as such he would continue to support the work of the Centre.
“This President is completely committed (to Iwokrama),” reaffirmed Dane Gobin, Chief Executive Officer of Iwokrama.
He said that apart from his visit to the head office, President David Granger has made two visits to the Iwokrama forest, located in the heart of Guyana, since he was elected to office two years ago. Gobin noted that President Granger is the only President to have spent a night in the Iwokrama forest.
To celebrate the 21st anniversary, the Iwokrama Centre decided to focus on capacity building for young students with special circumstances, giving them an opportunity to have an appreciation for the environment.
“You know if you talk about climate change to the younger ones they can actually change behaviours; they grow up being more responsible, using less fuel, littering less and so on,” he stated. Students attached to the Joshua House took part in various interactive sessions, during which they composed poems, made animal figurines using play dough, and were quizzed on various subjects.
The Iwokrama forest, measuring one million acres, was pledged to the nations of the Commonwealthback in 1989 by then President Desmond Hoyte to be used “in a manner that will lead to lasting ecological, economic and social benefits to the people of Guyana and the world in general.”
As a result of President Hoyte’s pledge, legislation which enjoyed bi-partisan support in the National Assembly, was passed in 1996 to govern the use of the forest, and the Iwokrama International Centre was set up to oversee the experiment.
Iwokrama’s forest-based businesses are a unique blend of science, technology, ancient culture and traditional knowledge developed to test innovative models of private-public community partnerships.
Timber from a sustainably managed tropical rainforest that demonstrates how a rainforest can be used for real sustainability, real climate change, protection and real community benefit.
In late 2015, the Centre signed an agreement with local company Farfan and Mendes to undertake a project to test the sustainable use of the forest.
In October, 2016, Iwokrama received certification from the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), and thus the Iwokrama forest is now the only area in Guyana that has been certified for meeting international best practices for Forest Management.
Gobin noted that with only 2-3 trees are being cut for every hectare of forest over a period of sixty years, and national guidelines ascribe a maximum of 20 cubic meters per hectare which is roughly about 10 trees.
Mr Gobin noted that this low impact sustainable forestry operation has opened up the UK timber market for Guyana, and Iwokrama hopes to roll out its model to show that you can “use the forest without losing it” and that “forests are worth more alive than dead.”
The Iwokrama forest is the best researched and managed ecosystems in Guyana, which measures the impact of forest-based businesses and evaluates the social, economic and ecological changes that occur.
While the Iwokrama Centre is looking forward to receiving continuous budgetary support from the government, Mr. Gobin said that the Centre aims to increased revenues not only from its sustainable forestry operation but also through eco-tourism, training and eco-system services.
He noted that the Centre is expected to have a large corporate donor for its science programme soon and this will add to other projects already underway, thanks to the European Union and the Japanese government.
Iwokrama would like to express appreciation to all that supported this event today and other events for the week namely, His Excellency the President David Granger and the First Lady Sandra Granger, Republic Bank, Survival Supermarket, Giftland Mall, Banks DIH ; Conservation International-Guyana , Beacon Cafe and our friends Odacy Davis, Meshach Pierre and Neil Marks. Outreach activities continue Tuesday, May 9th and Saturday, May 13th.