By Cindy Parkinson
BIODIVERSITY, also known as biological diversity, is the number, variety, and variability of living organisms within a certain terrestrial, aquatic, or marine habitat.
Ecosystems at all scales, from the local to the global, depend on biodiversity as a key component and structural component.
Through the services it offers, biodiversity affects human well-being.
These services include the provision of food, clean water, fuel, recreation, temperature control, nutrient cycling, and many others.
Because so many individuals depend on biodiversity for their everyday lives, ecosystem services and biodiversity support the world economy.
Guyana’s economy has greatly benefitted from biodiversity and related resources, particularly in the forestry, fishing, and wildlife industries.
In addition to these and other conventional development activities and sectors, Guyana can foster developmental activities based on a number of different biodiversity-related goods and services. The aim is to protect these resources while sustainably managing their utilisation.
The creation of ecotourism and wildlife products, bioprospecting, product invention and development, intellectual property rights, company incubation, and market research are a few examples of this.
This will also entail expanding traditional and indigenous livelihoods based on biodiversity and supporting women’s and young people’s business ventures.
From a domestic standpoint, other areas that will improve include building up local markets for sustainable fisheries, non-timber forest products, marketing assistance for tourism, and enhancing aviation infrastructure.
Understanding Guyana’s resources require documentation and data on its biodiversity.
Strengthening and consolidating existing databases and biodiversity-related information systems, including establishing systematic ways to collect, store, analyze, and share data, are paramount.
The emphasis is on enhancing institutions’ research, including the Centre for Biodiversity as an elite centre.
Regulatory authorities like the Wildlife Conservation and Management Commission, the Guyana Forestry Commission, the Environmental Protection Agency, and the Protected Areas Commission will work together to conduct research programmes to support decision-making, planning, and biodiversity management.
The Iwokrama International Centre’s extensive research capacity will be optimised in order to advance work in this field.
Modern knowledge and abilities will enable the utilisation of biodiversity through the LCDS. This calls for developing the capabilities of experts with management and regulatory responsibilities.
Through technical assistance and transfer, promotion, and investment in contemporary, cutting-edge technologies that are environmentally responsible and appropriate for Guyana’s setting.
Provision of adequate technology and administration of resources, including enforcement and monitoring. It is essential to emphasise the significance of information and communications technology in managing and conserving biodiversity.
Guyana is located in the Guiana Shield and the Amazon region, two of the world’s most biodiverse regions. Ecosystems in Guyana have a very low rate of conversion, deterioration, and destruction and remain generally intact and functional. The Guiana Shield’s northernmost edge is where Guyana is located.
This distinctive area includes Suriname, French Guiana, some of Venezuela, as well as a small portion of northern Brazil and Colombia. According to studies, the geological creation of this area extends over 270 million hectares and is more than two billion years old. As a result, its value in terms of biological diversity has been acknowledged on a regional and worldwide scale. The numerous ecosystems present across the country’s landscape, including forests, savannahs, rivers, and wetlands, would contribute to this.
Together, these habitats offer homes to hundreds of different kinds of plants and animals. According to current estimates for the leading group of biodiversity, Guyana’s sixth national report to the Convention on Biodiversity (CBD) includes more classifications, such as those for arthropods, fungi, nematodes, and algae.
Further, 13,229 species are thought to be present in Guyana overall.
Despite its small size, Guyana has a remarkable amount of biodiversity.
There are at least 2,285 vertebrate species in the nation, including around 900 bird species, 625 exclusively freshwater fish species, 250 mammals, 250 amphibians, and 210 reptiles.
According to maps of species diversity, Guyana is a global hotspot for freshwater organisms, including mammals, amphibians, reptiles, fish, crabs, crayfish, birds and amphibians.
The Caribbean region has average marine vertebrate diversity, which ranks modestly worldwide.
More than 7,000 different kinds of vascular plants may be found in Guyana, the vast majority of which are indigenous to the nation.
More than 85% of the known vascular plant species from the three nations that make up the Guiana Shield are represented by the Guyanese flora.
The predicted number of invertebrate species in Guyana is about 100,000. (insects, arachnids, crustaceans, myriapods, molluscs, annelids, sponges, cnidarians, and others).
Guyana’s biodiversity is continuing, and new plant and animal species are identified every year. In 2021, numerous fish, plants, insects, butterflies, and a bat were identified in Guyana.
Nearly 100 of the vertebrate species known from Guyana are unique to this planet.
These include 19 endemic amphibian species, like the critically endangered Kaei Rock Frog, known only from the Maringma Tepui; 75 endemic fish species, like the armoured catfish (Ancistrus Kellerae), known only from the Kuribrong River below Kaieteur Falls; and endemic reptile species, like the lizard Pantepuisaurus Rodriguesi, also known only from the Maringma Tepui.