The Guyana Mangrove Restoration Project (GMRP) has, since its inception, aimed to address the decline in mangrove-forested areas in Guyana. As such, a number of large-scale mangrove restoration projects have been completed. The Wellington Park Mangrove Restoration Project on the Corentyne Coast is one such project. The primary objective of this project is to seek commitment of the Guyanese people towards the protection and development of sustainable mangrove forests as an inexpensive form of sea defence.
Ecosystem services provided by Guyana’s mangroves
The mangrove forests of Guyana provide numerous ecosystem services, including stabilisation of the Guyana shoreline; provision of a buffer from storm surges; sustenance of coastal fisheries; and as a habitat for marine birds and other wildlife.
Status of Guyana’s mangroves
Despite its considerable value in terms of ecosystem services, Guyana’s mangrove cover has declined rapidly in recent years – from an estimated 91,000 hectares in 1980 to 22,632 hectares in 2011, representing a 75% reduction over a three-decade period. It should be noted that estimates of Guyana’s mangrove cover vary widely in the literature (Holowell 2009, Saenger et al. 1983, Snedaker 1986, Spalding et al. 1997), and work is underway to improve these estimates.
Major factors leading to the decline in Guyana’s mangrove cover are:
* Direct conversion of mangrove areas for agriculture;
* Infrastructure (eg canals, power lines, bridges and sea walls) and housing development; uncontrolled mangrove harvesting for firewood;
* Production of burnt earth for road construction; and widespread grazing of livestock.
The GMRP has planted about 54,000 mangrove plants at Wellington Park. This area has been helping to stabilise the Guyana shoreline and provide a buffer from storm surges.
It is also important to recognise that the scale of the problems facing Guyana’s mangroves requires an integrated response from the Government of Guyana, of which mangrove restoration is just one component. What is also required is recognition of the anthropogenic stresses impacting Guyana’s coastal mangroves. The Wellington Park Mangrove Restoration Project is one of those projects that would help to stabilise the Guyana shoreline and provide a buffer from storm surges. It is important to remember that, according to the amended Forestry Act of 2010, mangroves are designated as protected species, and therefore it is illegal to destroy mangroves without prior permission from the Commissioner of Forests. In addition to this, the EPA also encourages and works with communities and the public at large to spread awareness on the importance of having intact mangrove ecosystems along our coast.
Alleman LK, Hester MW (2011) Reproductive Ecology of Black Mangrove (Avicennia germinans) Along the Louisiana Coast: Propagule Production Cycles, Dispersal Limitations, and Establishment Elevations. Estuaries and Coasts 34:1068-1077.
Anthony EJ, Gardel A, Gratiot N, Proisy C, Allison MA, Dolique F, Fromard F (2010) The Amazon-influenced muddy coast of South America: A review of mud-bank–shoreline interactions. Earth-Science Reviews 103:99-121.
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