Community participation crucial in mangrove project

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THE success of mangrove management and protection is dependent on the involvement of the communities which utilise the mangrove forest.
A release from the Agriculture Ministry states that the Guyana Mangrove Restoration Project (GMRP) has established five Village Mangrove Action Committees (VMACs), in communities where the project has established restoration sites and areas where mangroves are particularly vulnerable. The VMACs work in collaboration with the project to promote mangrove awareness and management at the community level.
Additionally, the project has established a mangrove tourism product through the proposed Golden Grove/Belfield mangrove reserve – The Mangrove Heritage Trail. The Mangrove Heritage Trail is the winner of the Tourism and Hospitality of Guyana Environmental Award 2012 and the Caribbean Tourism Organisation Biodiversity Conservation Award 2012.
Seven community groups along the coast line in Regions 4, 5 and 6 have formed themselves into a cooperative called the “Mangrove Reserve Producers Coop Society”.
The coop provides an alternative livelihood for single mothers who produce small scale agro processing, mangrove honey and beeswax candles, all marketed under the “Mangrove Reserve Products” brand.
With regard to research, this is being done in collaboration with the University of Guyana. In 2012, the project signed 11 research grant contracts with the university to conduct research in several key areas. Thus far, seven research projects were completed by students and university faculty staff with grants from the project during 2010 – 2011.
Mangroves contribute substantially to sea defence by lessening wave action and protecting coastal banks, but have also traditionally been a source of raw materials, which has contributed to their degradation.
The GMRP is designed to respond to climate change and to mitigate its effects through the protection, rehabilitation and wise use of Guyana’s mangrove ecosystems through processes that maintain their protective function, values and biodiversity, while meeting the socio-economic development and environmental protection needs in estuarine and coastal areas.
The project has seen the replanting of over 336,000 black mangrove seedlings in Regions 4, 5 and 6. The length of coastline protected as a result of the project planting activities is approximately 5.5km. (GINA)