Spotlight to be placed on biodiversity management — when experts come here for Guiana Shield Conference in August

Members of the Guyana Society for Biodiversity and Ecosystems (from left) are Dr. Patrick Williams, Chairman of GSBE; Vanessa Benn, Vice-Chairperson; Curtis Bernard, committee member and Dr. Raquel Thomas-Caesar, committee member. (Adrian Narine photo)

By Shauna Jemmott

WITH a common passion for the protection and sustainable development of the Guiana Shield, several countries are breaking linguistic barriers this year to host the fourth International Congress on Biodiversity of the Guiana Shield in August at the Arthur Chung Conference Centre at Liliendaal, Greater Georgetown.The conference will see the largest gathering of biodiversity experts of the Guiana Shield. Under the theme: ‘Leveraging our high endemicity, cultural diversity, and intact ecosystems for inclusive growth and secure futures’, the conference will be hosted from August 8 to 12.
Communications Director of the Guyana Society for Biodiversity and Ecosystems (GSBE), Dr Raquel Thomas-Caesar, said the congress is intended to share information among researchers within the region regarding achievements, limitations and cross-border experiences and other critical aspects with respect to fostering a holistic approach to the management of biodiversity in the Guiana Shield.
It is also envisaged that discussions will further enhance the use of technology and data-sharing among the participating countries with respect to issues such as status and threats to the region’s biodiversity, the conservation challenges participating countries encounter and possible plans of action to address these concerns.
Presentations and discussions will focus on the following: State and conservation of biodiversity and ecological functions of the Guiana Shield, eco-system-dependent and indigenous peoples and conservation in the Guiana Shield, the Guiana Shield and global climate, mainstreaming biodiversity in sustainable development, and biodiversity governance and vulnerable groups.
The conference which will be opened by President David Granger, will also “engage governments, investors and development partners in promoting and strengthening a coordinated approach to planning and development actions, enhancing knowledge and sharing of data with all stakeholders.”
Dr. Thomas-Caesar also pointed out that the congress will foster greater integration among countries in the Guiana Shield to achieve significant balance in the wise management of its resources, while enhancing the socio-economic well-being of its population, and it also has the potential to be one of the largest academic gatherings in the region.
“The success of the IBG (International Biodiversity Society of the Guiana Shield) Congress would forge and strengthen partnerships to promote awareness and research for the benefit of policy-makers and the local and international communities for the conservation and protection of natural, rural and urban ecosystems of the Guiana Shield,” she stated during a press conference at the UNDP (United Nations Development Programme) in Georgetown yesterday.
Committee member Curtis Bernard said individuals, organisations and institutions interested in participating can visit the conference’s website at or email for more information.
The GSBE said over 100 papers will be presented along with poster displays, discussion and capacity-building sessions. Leading scientists, practitioners, policy-makers and students in a variety of fields will be among the participants, which include Biomimicry expert, Dr. Dayna Baumeister and Forest Policy Professor, Dr. Robert J. Lilieholm, and world-renowned Primatologist and Conservation expert Dr. Russell A. Mittermeier.
The Guiana Shield is one of earth’s oldest geological formations, and is the single largest block of tropical forest remaining on the planet. The region is one of the most biologically rich and diverse in the world with its pristine forests, largely uncontaminated aquatic ecosystems and other intact ecosystems. It is also home for many rare and unique species.
A variety of indigenous and other human communities depend, some almost exclusively, on its environment for their livelihoods. Over the past two decades, however, countries of the Shield have sought to intensify exploitation of their natural resources as a means of alleviating poverty and promoting socio-economic development. This has resulted in the emergence of a multiplicity of challenges, including land-use conflicts and biodiversity loss.
The International Congress on Biodiversity of the Guiana Shield was last held in Paramaribo, Suriname in August 2013. It was in 2010 held in Macapa, capital city in the state of Amapa, Brazil and in 2006 in Venezuela.