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Guyana’s National Protected Areas System (NPAS) 

has been in the making for over 80 years, beginning with the creation of the Kaieteur National Park (KNP) in 1929. At that time Guyana boasted the first national park in the Amazon region, and was one of only three countries in South America to have a protected area (PA). Since then, Guyana has taken a measured approach to protected areas development, with the country’s second oldest PA, The Iwokrama Rainforest Reserve, being formally established in 1996.

In 2011 the PA Act was made law and provided 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 and the maintenance of ecosystem services of national and global importance including climate regulation. Shortly thereafter, two new protected areas, the Kanuku Mountains Protected Area (KMPA) and Shell Beach Protected Area (SBPA) were declared following decades of preparatory work with local communities and other stakeholders. The largest and first ever indigenous owned PA, Kanashen Amerindian Protected Area (KAPA) was added to the NPAS in 2017. Also included in the system are four urban parks; the Botanical Gardens, Zoological Park, National Park and Joe Vieira Park. The PAs together with the urban parks, accounts for approximately 8.4% of the country’s land area.

The Protected Areas Commission

The PAC falls under the purview of the Office of the president. A Commissioner and Deputy Commissioner head up the management team and are answerable to a Board of Directors appointed by the Government of Guyana.

The Protected Areas Commission (PAC) which became operational in 2012, was also established by the PA Act as a body corporate, govern by a Board of Directors, with a mandate to establish, manage, maintain, promote and expand the NPAS. The Commission directly manages SBPA, KNP, KMPA and the Urban Parks. Iwokrama is govern under the Iwokrama Act and an International Board of Directors. Kanashen Village Council is the management authority for the KAPA and is responsible for its management. The PAC provides technical support to both Iwokrama and KAPA.

The Functions of the Commission are to;

  • establish, manage, maintain, promote and expand the national protected areas system;
  • identify and evaluate areas that are of ecological significance and make recommendations for the establishment of new protected areas;
  • ensure that the NPAS contains ecologically viable areas that are representative of Guyana’s habitats and ecosystems;
  • manage or ensure the proper management of each protected area in a manner that is consistent with the PA Type and its management plan
  • monitor the effectiveness of implementation of management plans and the achievement of the objectives of the national protected areas system;
  • regulate activities and use of resources within each national protected for the enjoyment and use of future generations;
  • promote public understanding, appreciation and awareness of Guyana’s natural heritage and promote environmental awareness and and education through the NPAS.
  • promote public involvement in decision making processes and activities for the achievement of the objectives of this Act;
  • promote, undertake and supervise scientific studies, monitoring and research consistent with the objectives of this Act;
  • ensure that the law, regulations and rules are enforced appropriately within the NPAS

The Protected Areas Trust (PAT)

was also established under the Protected Areas Act 2011, as a corporate body, governed by a Board of Trustees to manage a Trust Fund which was set-up to provide financing for the National Protected Areas System. The Trust Fund functions as an endowment fund to preserve the capital while investing globally to earn annual returns of approximately 5%. Revenues generated are used to support projects that contribute to, or promote, the conservation and preservation of the biological diversity and maintenance of the ecosystem services of the protected areas. In particular, PAT funds are used to co-finance the implementation of protected areas management plans, strengthen monitoring and enforcement in protected areas, support sustainable community enterprises, biodiversity conservation, and environmental education and awareness

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