Animal World

Iwokrama Rainforest

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Iwokrama Rainforest

A Conservation Gift to the World

The Iwokrama International Centre for Rain Forest Conservation and Development (IIC) commonly known as Iwokrama, is one of five protected areas in Guyana. The word Iwokrama is of Macushi origin, and translates as “Place of Refuge. At the 10th meeting of the Heads of Government of Commonwealth Nations, in Malaysia (1989), the Langkawi Declaration on Environment was adopted. This was a program of action to combat increasingly serious global environmental threats that were severely degrading the planet. Due to the potential and current impacts these environmental issues were having and their ability to transcend borders, they became matters for serious discussion at the last meeting of the heads of Commonwealth. It was at this final meeting that H.E Desmond Hoyte, the then President of Guyana, gave the meeting a spirited and practical start by pledging to set aside a significant portion of intact Amazonian forest for a pioneering project, under the Commonwealth and in collaboration with the Government of Guyana. The proposed project would demonstrate that methods of sustainable management of forest and conservation of biodiversity can work hand in hand, thereby lending support for the success of sustainable development as a future model for countries to follow.

Following this offer Commonwealth leaders asked the Secretary General to organize a visit of a high-level team of experts for an exploratory mission trip to Guyana. The site visit was conducted from the 12-22th of May, 1990 by a multi-disciplinary team of experts, who upon conclusion of the mission proposed a joint Commonwealth-Government of Guyana programme to manage a significant area of Rainforest, in a sustainable manner for the benefit of the international community and Guyana. Based on the recommendations received, an area of just over 900,000 acres (360,000 hectares) of intact tropical forested land was made available for the pioneering project in keeping with the commitment made by President Hoyte. In the following years work on the proposed programme continued and in 1993, US$3,000,000 was secured from the Global Environment Facility (GEF) to help facilitate legal establishment, demarcation of boundaries, research and institutional development of the project area.  Simple operations began by 1994 and further momentum was gained in 1995 with the signing of the Iwokrama agreement by H.E. Dr. Cheddi Jagan, the then President of Guyana and the Secretary General of Commonwealth H.E. Chief Emeka Anyaoku. Finally in 1996, the Iwokrama Act was passed unanimously by the Parliament of Guyana, thereby officially designating the protected area and establishing what we now know as the Iwokrama Forest. In 2011 the Protected Areas Act was passed creating Guyana’s National Protected Areas System and the Protected Areas Commission to manage the system. Iwokrama is governed under the Iwokrama Act and an International Board of Directors. The PAC provides support and general oversight in keeping with the provisions of the PA Act 2011.

Come and retrace the footsteps of the Makushi people, wander our extensive trail system and discover the unforgettable flora, fauna and Amerindian history so special to this tropical paradise. The Iwokrama Forest is an extraordinary destination for naturalists, birders and anyone seeking an authentic retreat to the jungle.

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