The Kanuku Mountains Protected Area (KMPA) was first proposed as a potential Protected Area in 1999 as part of establishing a National Protected Areas System (NPAS) for Guyana – which was identified as a priority in the National Biodiversity Action Plan (NBAP). It was established to conserve its high biodiversity and its environmental services so that it can contribute to the social and economic security of present and future generations of local communities and people in the wider region. As part of the implementation of the NBAP, the Cooperative Republic of Guyana appointed Conservation International-Guyana (CI-G) as the lead agency to facilitate the process for part of the Kanuku Mountains becoming a national protected area. In 2006, with funding support from the Government of Germany, through Kreditanstalt fur Wiederaufbau (KfW), the Guyana Protected Areas System (GPAS) Project was established, with activities focused on building and supporting a Protected Areas System in Guyana. As part of this project, in 2007, the delineation process for the area began and a participatory approach was used involving a core group of stakeholders that included representation from indigenous communities, state agencies responsible for resource use in and around the protected area (PA), local and national government bodies, as well as other regional and national groups and agencies not already included in the core group. Subsequently, the enactment of the Protected Areas Act in 2011 provided the legal mechanism for the recognition and declaration of the Kanuku Mountains Protected Area (KMPA) as one of Guyana’s national protected areas.
The Kanuku Mountains Protected Area is located in the Rupununi region (Region Nine (Upper Takutu, Upper Essequibo), of southwestern Guyana, which is the largest of the 10 administrative regions of the country. The protected area is 611,000 ha in area with a perimeter of approximately 590km. It includes significant portions of the western Kanuku Mountains and almost the entire eastern range. The protected area comprises approximately 4% of Guyana’s total forested area with 99% forest and 1% savannah as such this is an important area for biodiversity. The Rupunnuni, where the PA is located, is considered to be one of the most ecologically diverse areas in the country with healthy populations of many regionally and globally important species surviving in its forests, riverine and savannah areas. The region is home to 70% of all mammal species and 53% of all bird species known to occur in Guyana, as well as a large number of freshwater fish species. Approximately 1,577 plant species have been recorded in the region. As such, the KMPA has a high biodiversity value, as well as being particularly important in terms of plant endemism. A number of flagship species, such as the harpy eagle, cock-of-the-rock, and jaguar, as well as other ecologically important species, including 11 of Guyana’s 12 mammal species listed in the IUCN Red Data Book occur within the PAThe area around the Kanuku Mountains is populated mainly by the indigenous Macushi and Wapishana people living in 21 communities. These communities interact with and use the resources of the protected area to sustain their mainly subsistence lifestyle.
How the KMPA is Managed
The KMPA is managed in accordance with the IUCN category VI classification: A managed resource protected area which is managed to provide natural products and services to meet local needs while also protecting natural ecosystems and maintaining ecosystem services. A unique element of this IUCN classification is that the sustainable use of natural resources is used as a means to achieve nature conservation, along with other more conventional methods such as resource protection. The management of the area follows the strategies, goals, objectives and outputs that have been outlined in the KMPA management plan and is implemented by the Protected Areas Commission in collaboration communities, Government agencies and other partners.
The day-to-day activities are implemented by a Site Coordinator and a Ranger Team who are mostly employed from the surrounding communities. The PAC works closely with the Kanuku Mountains Community Representative Group (KMCRG) an organization representing the 21 communities around the KMPA. KMCRG has been a strong support and partner with the Government and PAC in maintaining the integrity and natural beauty of the Kanuku Mountains. The invaluable contributions and support of the communities and the KMCRG to the establishment and management of the KMPA cannot be over-emphasized.
Our Work in the KMPA
A management plan was developed and implemented over the period 2016-2022. The image below outlines some of the key activities that were successfully completed. The PAC, KMCRG and other key stakeholders are currently finalizing a new management plan for the next five years.
National Park, Thomas Lands,