Gov’t invested $200M to restore, sustain mangroves

To restore and maintain mangroves sustainably, $200 million has been invested in a number of developmental initiatives in 2023. These projects are part of Guyana’s adaptation of the green-grey infrastructure approach, to protect and increase resilience of its coastline.

Guyana’s restoration efforts in Regions Two, Four, Five and Six have added over 500 hectares of coastal mangroves making Guyana’s mangrove cover over 21,000 hectares.

Prime Minister, Brigadier (Ret’d), Mark Phillips

This was underscored by Prime Minister, Brigadier (Ret’d), Mark Phillips, during the opening ceremony of the $60 million mangrove centre at the National Agricultural Research and Extension Institute (NAREI), Friday last.

Prime Minister Phillips said Guyana has been at the forefront of mangrove restoration and management efforts through collaborative initiatives.

These initiatives, he added, seek to restore degraded mangrove areas, empower local communities while at the same time implement sustainable practices.

Mangroves along the seawall at Ogle, East Coast Demerara

These endeavours are not just environmental. They are about sustainable development. They recognise the vital link between healthy mangrove ecosystems and thriving communities…This green-grey infrastructure approach to securing our coastline by combining hard engineered sea defences, with the restoration, conservation and management of mangroves is a strategy that provides climate resilience for vulnerable coastal communities,” PM Phillips stressed.

The prime minister highlighted that the vulnerability of Guyana’s low-lying coastline, home to over 90 per cent of its population and fertile agricultural lands, is significantly reduced by combining our natural mangroves and engineered sea defences.

According to global estimates, just a 1 per cent prevention of mangrove loss will result in the abatement of 200 million tonnes of carbon.

Minister of Agriculture, Zulfikar Mustapha

“The Government of Guyana through the soon to be inaugurated multi-agency, Mangrove Management Action Network, will develop interventions that seek to integrate mangroves into the landscape to ensure that all Guyanese continue to enjoy the use of this valuable recreational space.”

Meanwhile, Minister of Agriculture, Zulfikar Mustapha underlined the importance of these critical projects to restore mangroves on the Essequibo Coast in Region Two and Mahaicony in Region Five, through the construction of geotextile tube grinds and timber breakwater.

The agriculture minister stated that Guyana is joining the rest of the world in reflecting on and raising awareness of the critical role these distinctive and diverse coastal ecosystems play in protecting our environment and supporting both human and marine life.

Mangroves along the seawall at Ogle, East Coast Demerara

“We, in Guyana, have to be the hub for food production. And if we have to be the hub, we have to ensure that we restore the mangroves so that Guyana can prepare to fight the elements of climate change…so that we can once again be the breadbasket of the Caribbean…,” he stressed. 

Besides serving as a vital protection for the environment, mangroves serve as a nursery to countless marine species, sustaining the fishing industry, while serving as the first line of defence against sea level rise and flooding.