President Ali welcomes establishment of Sophia Point Rainforest Research Centre

Guyana’s environmental conservation efforts will continue to see tremendous growth over the coming months as the Sophia Point Rainforest Research Centre was inaugurated at the George Walcott Lecture Theatre (GWLT) at the University of Guyana on Tuesday.

The centre which is located in River’s View, Region Ten will facilitate education on biological science, as well as indigenous culture and amplify existing conservation efforts.

President, Dr Mohamed Irfaan Ali

President, Dr. Mohamed Irfaan Ali welcomed the initiative and noted that Guyana, has for many years played an important role in forest conservation.

“Our priority on the environment and climate change is part of our global responsibility. We do not see ourselves in an eggshell in Guyana. We understand the importance of our forests for life in the global community. We understand the significance of the forest for biodiversity studies and for the advancement of modern medicine, research and development, and importantly, we know for a fact the value of the forests… not down, but the value of the forests standing. And that is why today, we have one of the lowest deforestation rates in the world,” he explained.

The president said having a forest that contributes positively to humanity and addressing the climate crisis gives the country good international branding.

Meanwhile, UK Shadow Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, David Lammy, who co-founded Sophia Point with his wife, Nicola Green, said the centre was birthed out of his love for Guyana and his desire to do something for his country.

UK Shadow Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, David Lammy

Since both his parents are Guyanese, he spent many of his formative years travelling between Guyana and the United Kingdom.

“On this journey, we’ve been spurred by the enthusiasm and excitement at every level across the country for what Sophia Point represents: a space for young Guyanese to be inspired and to inspire others, to better understand and protect the vitally important rainforests, and to equip themselves with the knowledge and skills to champion their environment for generations to come,” he expressed.

He stressed that Sophia Point is dedicated to building capacity, especially as Guyana has a significantly lower number of environmental research stations when compared with smaller countries.

“If you look around the globe, at comparable countries, you can see what the standard is. Costa Rica, a country four times smaller than Guyana has 44 research stations. Panama, a country three times smaller than Guyana, has 12 interconnected sites just run by the Smithsonian Institute alone. Both countries represent 60 percent of the size of Guyana. So, Guyana deserves more,” he posited.

Further, at a time when biodiversity loss and climate change increasingly threaten the Caribbean and Latin American region, Lammy pointed out that now is a crucial time to reexamine rainforests and their immense benefit.

The gathering at the lecture theatre on Tuesday

He also expressed his belief that there is no solution to the climate crisis without inspiring, intelligent and articulate young people from countries like Guyana to engineer new solutions.

“Now feels like an immense time of change in Guyana. And we have the opportunity to do something rare in environmental efforts: to take action to prevent, rather than cure. And to deliver a transformation in how we live alongside nature. I believe that that is only possible through education, advocacy, and empowerment; a better-studied, better-understood and better-protected rainforest is for the benefit of all in Guyana, South America, the Caribbean and beyond. And the Sophia Point Rainforest Research Centre offers to be a part of that, a project with a small footprint, but we hope an outsized impact,” Lammy said.

The Sophia Point Rainforest Research Centre is a nonprofit, non-governmental organisation.