The Environmental Protection Act sets out a number of roles for the EPA in the field of biodiversity management, including but not limited to coordinating and maintaining a programme for the conservation of biological diversity and its sustainable use, and to promote and encourage a better understanding and appreciation of the natural environment and its role in social and economic development.
Since its inception in 1996, the EPA has always maintained a program area dedicated to biodiversity management. The work of biodiversity management is shared by a number of program areas in the Agency, led by the Multilateral Environmental Agreements (MEAs) team.
* MEAs – coordinates the implementation of biodiversity related conventions for which the EPA is the focal point and related policies (Convention on Biological Diversity, Nagoya Protocol etc.);
* Technical Services – oversees the Biodiversity Research process;
* Communications – relays relevant information to the public on biodiversity issues and how communities and the general public can protect and conserve natural resources.
Biodiversity can affect and crosscut most or all aspects of development and its importance cannot be overstated. Successful management requires the collaboration and full engagement of all stakeholders and MEAs. The EPA through its MEA Unit holds the overarching responsibility for biodiversity management. The Unit facilitates harmonized and collaborative information systems to support knowledge sharing and collaboration between key Agencies that have roles and responsibilities to play in biodiversity protection.
Through EPAs programme, the Unit assists Guyana in meetings its obligations to biodiversity MEAs by providing policy and technical support, and attending meetings geared to share experiences and best practices for mainstreaming and restoring biodiversity.
Biodiversity Research
Most of Guyana’s habitats are largely intact and offer numerous opportunities to study organisms in their natural habitat. The EPA is responsible for coordinating research activities in pursuit of the conservation and protection of biodiversity which includes the endemic species we covered in last week’s article. Research in any field is important, and moreso in the environment as we need to take stock of our natural capital. Therefore, any person whether local or foreign who is interested in conducting biodiversity research in Guyana, MUST apply to the EPA for a Research Permit.
Insert image of research process here
Communicating biodiversity issues
The work of the Communications Department fulfils the Agency’s role of promoting a better understanding and appreciation of the natural environment, and encouraging public participation in environmental decision making. The Department also provides information and education to the public regarding the benefits of sustainable use of natural resources through:
* Awareness on television, radio, newspapers and social media;
* Training for teachers in environmental education;
* Engaging youth during camps and school visits;
* Development of awareness materials such as brochures and posters;
* Delivering presentations and supporting environmental clubs.
The work of other program areas within the EPA, allows for the consideration of biodiversity in development projects through the environmental authorisation process and other programs. This is done by:
* Reviewing applications to determine the potential impacts on biodiversity;
* Setting permit conditions e.g. biodiversity offsets, marine mammals observers;
* Developing standards for discharges and emissions for environmental parameters that affect biodiversity e.g. water and air quality
* Ensuring compliance through reporting, spot checks etc.
You can share your ideas and questions by sending letters to: “Our Earth, Our Environment”, C/O Communications, 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.