Welcome to the weekly column of the Environmental Protection Agency in Guyana new readers, and welcome back to our regular readers. We at the EPA take this opportunity to extend best wishes for the New Year to you and your families.
Every year, the United Nations selects an environmental issue it determines requires global attention and action. In light of the prevailing COVID-19 pandemic, the theme, “International Year for Fruits and Vegetables” was selected.
In a message launching the campaign, UN Secretary-General António Guterres said that despite the tremendous benefits of fruits and vegetables, “we do not consume enough of them.”
“Fruits and vegetables are the cornerstone of a healthy and varied diet. They provide the human body with an abundance of nutrients, strengthen immune systems, and help lower risks for a number of diseases,” he said.
“As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to affect the health and livelihoods of people across the world, we must come together to ensure that nutritious food, including fruits and vegetables, reaches the most vulnerable, leaving no one behind,” the UN chief added. “Let us use this International Year to rethink our relationship with how we produce and consume food, and to re-examine our food systems and commit to a healthier, more resilient and sustainable world, where everyone can access and afford the diverse nutrition they need.”
The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation is the lead agency for celebrating the year, in collaboration with other relevant organisations and bodies of the United Nations’ system. The International Year complements several other key initiatives, including the Decade of Action on Nutrition (2016-2025), the Decade of Family Farming (2019-2028), and the Global Strategy on Diet, Physical Activity and Health. These observances reinforce each other, while providing
The lush soil and tropical climate allows for Guyanese to enjoy a diverse selection of fresh fruits and vegetables, thereby allowing us to have a balanced diet, full of the right combination of nutrients.

A new decade of action
There has never been a more urgent need to restore damaged ecosystems than now.
Ecosystems support all life on Earth. The healthier our ecosystems are, the healthier the planet – and its people. The UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration aims to prevent, halt and reverse the degradation of ecosystems on every continent and in every ocean. It can help to end poverty, combat climate change, and prevent mass extinction. It will only succeed if everyone plays a part.

Objectives of the Decade:
* Showcase successful government-led and private initiatives to halt ecosystem degradation, restore those ecosystems that have already been degraded;
* Enhance knowledge exchange on what works, and why (policy, economics and biophysical aspects), and how to implement restoration at scale;
* Connect initiatives working in the same landscape, region or topic, to increase efficiency and impact;
* Create links between ecosystem restoration opportunities and initiatives with businesses interested in building a robust portfolio of sustainable production and impact investment; and
* Bring a broader spectrum of actors on board, especially from sectors that are not traditionally involved, by demonstrating the importance of ecosystem restoration to conservation, as well as generation of social and economic benefits.
Restoring our planet’s imperilled ecosystems intrinsically connects us with a chance at a healthier future.

Ecosystem restoration in Guyana
Mangrove restoration
The EPA is implementing the GEF Caribbean Large Marine Ecosystems (CLME+) project, which requires the selection of a degraded mangrove area to apply ecosystem-based management (EBM) approaches and ocean governance arrangements. These approaches are said to be the most effective for the mitigation of pollution, restoration and/or rehabilitation of the area. The Wellington Park site was selected due to the massive sawdust accumulation along the coast, where the mangrove reserve is located.
Participants and EPA officers engaged in conversations around the proper management of mangroves, the role of the EPA as part of the CLME+ project, next steps in creating a management plan for the area, and the importance of community perspectives in the planning process.
Through a revisioning exercise, the participants drafted plans on what the area can look like in 10-15 years, if it is properly managed.
A meeting is scheduled for January 2021, to discuss proper waste management and best practices of sawdust waste. The Agency met with the sawmill operators as well as community members earlier in the year, and will continue to work with all parties to ensure restoration of the area.

Reclamation of mined out areas
Although it is deemed a crucial economic activity worldwide, mining has a significant negative impact on environment. Due to its nature, these extractive operations inevitably lead to serious degradation on ecological and aesthetic values of the landscape. It is therefore imperative that mining and restoration are conducted and completed continuously and progressively throughout the life of a mine. Moreover, extractive industries have an ethical and often legal obligation to return land to productivity.
Figure 1: Impacts of gold mining on water quality, Upper Mazaruni
The Agency, as a regulatory force, will continue to impose legal requirements for responsible mining practices and progressive mine reclamation from operators through its Environmental Authorisation process. Although, reclamation of post-mining landscapes can be challenging, since it highly depends on the site-specific characteristics, it generally aims to achieve the following:
* Return land disturbed by surface mining to an acceptable, predetermined, sustainable land use.
* Physically stabilise disturbed soils to provide a secure substrate for revegetation.
* Create an environment that allows for the establishment of valued features (eg: planting of shrub species near wetland habitat, nesting structures for rare or endangered species) and special features identified in pre-mining assessment.

Impacts of Gold Mining in Upper Mazaruni, 2017
During the decade of Ecosystem restoration, the Agency, in collaboration with stakeholders – especially the Guyana Geology and Mines Commission, Conservation organisations and mine operators – can further seek to operationalise additional reclamation projects across the mining districts within our country, as piloted in Mahdia.
Mine site rehabilitation project in Mahdia, GGMC, 2017.

https://www.iucn.org/theme/nature-based-solutions/initiatives/decade-eco system-restoration#:~:text=The%20United%20Nations%20Decade%20on,chance%20at%20a%20healthier%20future.
You can share your ideas and questions by sending letters to: “Our Earth, Our Environment”, C/O Communications Department, Environmental Protection Agency, Ganges Street, Sophia, GEORGETOWN, or email us at: [email protected], follow us on Facebook and Instagram, and subscribe to our YouTube channel.
1 https://www.worldcoal.org/returning-mined-land-productivity-through-reclamation#:~:text=Key%20objectives%20in%20reclamation%20activities,landscape%20visual%20and%20functional%20quality.