A $60 million Mangrove Centre has been constructed at the National Agricultural Research and Extension Institute (NAREI) in Mon Repos, East Coast Demerara.
This initiative forms part of a collaboration with the Guyana Conservation Initiative (GCI), facilitated by Iwokrama and funded by ExxonMobil, to implement a Strategic Plan for Agriculture and Rural Statistics (SPARS) and develop an Integrated Agriculture Information System.
The centre will also serve as a hub for research on mangrove restoration; secure coastal areas, generate economic opportunities and support bio-diversity.
During the unveiling exercise, Prime Minister Brigadier (Ret’d) Mark Phillips posited that the facility displays Government’s commitment to restoring Guyana’s mangrove industry, lead in forest management and climate change.
“Guyana’s mangroves are a global asset. Mangroves, with their unique ecosystem and unparalleled ecological significance, play a vital role in mitigating climate change…By conserving and protecting our mangroves, we actively contribute to global efforts, striving to combat climate change and reduce greenhouse gas emissions,” PM Phillips explained.
Further, Prime Minister Phillips announced that the centre will support several investments and support the establishment of sustainable businesses.
The first initiative involves expanding beekeeping in mangroves through a partnership with Cuban beekeeping experts and GLDA, contributing to the scaling up of Guyana’s honey production.
And the second being a mangrove regeneration project, which aims to integrate mangroves into the landscape, ensuring recreational space for all Guyanese.
According to the Prime Minister, the initiative to be conducted through the Mangrove Management Action Network, is a dual strategy that will support Guyana’s low-lying coastline and engineered sea defences to enhance climate resilience.
“This green-grey infrastructure approach to securing our coastline by combining hard ‘engineered’ sea defences with the restoration, conservation, and management of mangroves is a strategy that provides climate resilience for vulnerable coastal communities… as we inaugurate the Mangrove Centre, a symbol of our commitment to environmental stewardship, I call upon every Guyanese to take pride in preserving these invaluable ecosystems. Together, let us ensure a legacy of environmental harmony and prosperity for generations to come,” the PM said.
The Prime Minister highlighted Guyana’s proactive restoration of over 500 hectares of mangroves across various regions. He also spotlighted the historic sale of carbon credits through ART TREES, underscoring the Government’s recognition of the importance of forests, adding that mangroves, valued at least US$1.6 billion annually, will be explored further through LCDS 2030, with the Mangrove Centre as a hub for advancing knowledge.
Mangroves are considered Guyana’s natural sea defence and serve as a link between terrestrial and marine environments and as such, perform multiple functions including mitigation of coastal erosion, compensation of rising sea levels, regulation of water quality, and provision of other countless ecosystem services.
Mangroves also provide about five to ten times more carbon storage that the terrestrial forest and are essential to Guyana’s low carbon development trajectory.