Sustainable coastal zone protection through mangrove management in Guyana

At a glance

Duration
to
Status
Active programmes
Region
Caribbean
Country
Guyana
Partners
Min. of Agriculture through the National Agriculture Research and Extension Institute (NAREI)
Countries involved
1
Total budget
4,17 M€
Sector(s)
GCCA priority area(s)
Video
Effects of climate change on the region

Like many coastal countries in the Caribbean, Guyana is vulnerable to increased coastal erosion as a result of climate change. An initiative to restore and plant new mangrove forests is proving an interesting way of contributing to carbon sequestration through reforestation and forest preservation. It also supports adaptation to climate change through the strengthening of natural sea defences and support for coastal zone biodiversity.

GCCA's action programme
Geographical scope
Country groups
Initial GCCA/GCCA+ contribution
4,165,000.00 €
Specific objectives

Contribute through support for the National Mangrove Management Action Plan.

Key achievements
  • A Mangrove Action Plan has been produced; it was approved by Cabinet in May 2010. To support its implementation, a Mangrove Action Committee has been established as an advisory body comprised of 12 government agencies, research organisations and the private sector.

  • A mangrove monitoring plan and mangrove monitoring protocols have been produced.

  • A mangrove inventory of the entire coastline has been prepared. A GIS monitoring system has been developed to manage field data and remote sensing images/aerial photos of Guyana’s coastline. Training in GIS and GPS has been provided to project unit staff and mangrove rangers.

  • Some 36.5km of mangroves are now monitored and protected by a newly set up mangrove ranger unit comprising 8 rangers.

  • Surveys of project sites have been conducted. 420 000 black mangrove seedlings have been produced and planted with community involvement. 5 km of mangroves have been restored along the East Coast of Demerara, West Coast Berbice and Corentyne Coast. Hard structures have been designed and constructed to increase sedimentation in selected areas.

  • Five village mangrove action committees have been set up to promote mangrove awareness and protection at the community level.

  • Guyana’s first Mangrove Reserve has been established, and the related mangrove eco-tourism project won the Tourism Hospitality Association of Guyana Environmental Award in 2011.

  • A mangrove reserve women producers group has been established to promote alternative livelihoods in communities along the coast. It won the Caribbean Tourism Organisation/Travel Mole Award for Biodiversity Conservation in 2012.

  • Mangrove protection and rehabilitation is generating significant benefits for local communities, through participation in mangrove seedling production as well as the sale of non-timber forest products, honey from beekeeping and other mangrove-based produce.

  • Community infrastructure projects have been completed at Mon Repos, Victoria, East Coast Demerara and Village #8, West Coast Berbice.

  • The Guyana Mangrove Restoration Project website is up and running. Several publications produced in the context of the project are available from this site, including a mangrove nursery manual, a code of practice for mangrove harvesting and education materials. A facebook site has also been developed.

  • A Mangrove Visitor Centre hosting 3 000 students per year and 200 other visitors per month has been established. It is becoming a fixture on annual events such as the Amerindian Pageants as well as Guyana Fashion weekend.

  • A ‘mangrove song’ and a campaign explaining the multiple benefits of mangroves have been shown on national television. A documentary on mangroves entitled ‘Holding Back the Sea’ has been produced and aired by the Guyana Learning Channel, targeting primary schools. A teacher’s resource manual on mangroves has also been produced; it has been endorsed by the Ministry of Education and is now part of the secondary school curriculum. The curriculum committee at the Ministry of Education has been approached to emphasize the importance of mangroves and climate change in the school curriculum in the future.

  • Five research papers have been completed in collaboration with University of Guyana, and 12 new research grants have been awarded. PhD thesis research on seawalls and communities with a University of California student is ongoing, while other research work has already been completed by a UK student.

  • The first Guyana Mangrove Forum, entitled “Restoring and managing mangrove ecosystems in a changing world”, was held in Georgetown from 11 to 14 April 2013 to raise the profile of mangroves and build linkages between Guyanese and regional researchers.

A video showing some project achievements is available here.

Main activities per result

Mangroves are rehabilitated, protected and sustainably used, with the support of mangrove-related research. A code of practice for mangrove management is formulated. Public awareness and education on the benefits of protecting mangroves are strengthened. Forest legislation is enforced, and mangrove-related policy and legislation are subject to ongoing review.

A core activity under the Mangrove Management Action Plan is the rehabilitation of mangrove fields. This element of the programme involves selecting existing mangrove forests for protection, and identifying sites that are more difficult to rehabilitate but are of high value in terms of sea defence. Mangrove seedlings are being planted along different sections of coastline.

Another programme activity is the mapping of mangroves, using GIS tools, in conjunction with the establishment of a monitoring, reporting and verification (MRV) system undertaken in the context of preparation for REDD+.

On the policy and regulatory side, mangrove protection is now considered in the National Forest Act and the Second National Biodiversity Action Plan, which creates a supportive policy framework; it is now also fully considered in the new draft of the Forest Plan. The quality and effectiveness of regulations protecting mangroves are being reviewed.

Several actions have been and will keep being implemented in support of public awareness and community involvement. Participation of communities living close to mangrove fields is indeed very important both for protection and for mangrove monitoring.

Challenges and lessons learned (selected)
  • The technical assistance component was needed earlier in the project timeframe as relevant technical expertise is limited locally.

  • Thorough analysis of pilot sites is crucial, with considerable preparatory efforts such as collecting information on wave energy, mud elevation, hydrology and coastal activities to be emphasized. This is needed for the success of the planting exercise as the mangrove seedlings are very sensitive to erosion and wave action. A particular attention should be given to understanding the hydrological processes before proceeding with planting, in line with the ‘ecological mangrove rehabilitation’ approach.

  • Observations indicate that the establishment of hard structures (rip-rap) increases sedimentation and promotes natural regeneration, highlighting the importance of the infrastructure support component (groins and breakwaters). As such, this component should have preceded the planting component.

  • The project has rightly given due attention to community involvement and to development of a network of community-based mangrove rangers. This has contributed to conservation of existing mangrove stands, identification of threats, and to natural regeneration of mangroves in extensive areas.

  • The project has many strands which are relevant for the post-2015, Rio+20 context, combining budget support with sustainable development (green economy, climate change mitigation), and women's empowerment.

Way forward (selected)
  • The monitoring system still needs to become fully operational, through acquisition of satellite imagery data and of ‘in-house’ GIS/data management capacities to manage and report the data concerning mangrove status and management. Integration with the MRV system for REDD+ also needs further development.

  • The Guyana Mangrove Restoration Project is also gaining valuable experience in community involvement in mangrove protection. In this context, sustainable levels of exploitation of mangrove-based products could be further explored, in order to increase community benefits from protection efforts.

  • A final evaluation should be launched, as recommended by the EU Budget Support Operation's Guidelines.