Over 85% of Guyana’s land is covered in forests, as a result, Guyana, is one of the most biologically diverse countries. An ecosystem that is biologically diverse with plant and animal species, indicates that the area can sustain an abundance of life and continue to support development.
In Guyana, biological diversity serves as a crucial foundation for regulating the climate, reducing poverty, providing fresh water and hydropower, fostering economic growth and development in sectors like agriculture, forestry, and fisheries, and funding community-based economies, especially in the hinterland. Biodiversity research is an essential tool for setting baselines and monitoring changes in biodiversity over time, which is crucial for understanding the impacts of human activities on ecosystems and for developing effective conservation strategies.
Guyana’s National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan (NBSAP 2012-2020) identifies research as a priority area as it provides much-needed insight into the intricate relationships between different species and their environment, including the effects of climate change, habitat loss, and other human activities. Biodiversity Research has been utilised to provide baseline data for the monitoring and management of the impacts of logging and mining activities on forest ecosystems here in Guyana.
We recognise that continuous research in species populations and habitats aids in the detection of changes in biodiversity and assesses the effectiveness of conservation measures aimed at mitigating deleterious impacts. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as the country’s focal point for the Convention on Biological Diversity plays a key role in permitting, monitoring, and supporting biodiversity research in the country. Biodiversity research also allows the EPA to fulfil its legal mandate to coordinate programs in biodiversity management, and help Guyana to meet its reporting obligations for international conventions.
Who is required to apply for a Biodiversity Research Permit?
Under the Environmental Protection Act and its regulations, any person or organization that wishes to conduct research on biodiversity in Guyana is required to apply for a research permit from the EPA. This includes researchers from Guyana as well as those from other countries that fall into the following categories academic researchers, commercial researchers, and international film crews. Studies involving the following activities require a permit:
1. The collection of specimens of flora and fauna, including seeds, tissue samples, and live organisms.
2. The use of non-invasive techniques, such as remote sensing to survey biodiversity and film the forests, wildlife, natural sites, hinterland communities, and culture.
3. The manipulation of natural ecosystems, such as the removal or introduction of species.
4. The use of chemicals or other substances that may have an impact on biodiversity.
5. The use of indigenous knowledge or traditional ecological knowledge.
The Biodiversity Research Permit Process
Researchers desirous of conducting biodiversity research are required to submit an application (which can be downloaded from our website) to EPA Guyana and pay a non-refundable processing fee of US $75.00. Applications are to be submitted three months before the start of the research and late application will be subjected to a US $40 late fee. This in no way guarantees that permission and a permit to conduct research will be granted by the National Biodiversity Committee. The EPA Guyana may reject an application for biodiversity research if it is deemed non-compliant with the agency’s governing regulations and guidelines, lacks scientific merit, could have a negative impact on biodiversity, or has a conflict of interest or bias. Once granted permission, upon the completion of the research, it is required that a preliminary report, field notes, photographs, and recordings be submitted to the EPA before the researchers depart Guyana. Researchers who are desirous of exporting samples must apply for the EPA’s Export Permit. In addition, the EPA requires the submission of the completed final report and any publications based on the research.
The EPA welcomes the opportunity for biodiversity research to be conducted within Guyana as it establishes baselines that aid in our efforts to monitor, manage and preserve Guyana’s Biological wealth. However, we recognise the importance of holding researchers to the highest scientific and ethical standards to ensure that research activities are conducted responsibly and sustainably and that the interests of Guyana and its people are always protected.
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Environmental Protection Agency, Global Environment Facility, & UNEP. (2015). CBD Fifth National Report – Guyana (English version). https://www.cbd.int/doc/world/gy/gy-nr-05-en.pdf