$1B mangroves project spawned 376 jobs, 18 studies – Ministry

The Guyana Mangrove Restoration Project (GMRP) provided 376  jobs while 18 critical research studies were conducted in collaboration with the University of Guyana from 2010 to 2013, the length of the project.

A statement setting out the benefits of the project followed a report in the July 28, 2013 Sunday Stabroek which noted that the European Union-funded $1B project had produced less than half of the expected mangroves over the three- year period and raising the question of value for money.

According to the statement from the Minister within the Ministry of Agriculture, Ali Baksh, nine rangers and five tour guides have found employment directly resulting from the mangrove initiative. “GMRP has established a monitoring system comprising the Guyana Mangrove Monitoring Plan and complementary GIS database system as well as mangrove rangers to effectively monitor and protect Guyana; coastal mangrove resources. The project has eight mangrove rangers engaged and protecting 24 km of coastal mangrove forests,” the statement read.

Not only were full time ranger and part-time rangers hired but the overall project was aimed at promoting the values of biodiversification and how to assist in the socioeconomic development of the seven communities along the East Coast.

Including communities in their own development was achieved by employing 110 persons in community seedling nurseries. The nurseries were compensated $100 per seedling. The statement said that 240 persons were employed by the GMRP to assist with the planting of seedlings. The statement revealed that over 386,000 seedlings were planted along an 11 km stretch of the East Coast. There was no information on how many of these had survived.

The minister’s statement noted that various grants were utilized to conduct research for 11 research projects in 2012 while the University of Guyana collaborated with the GMRP for seven research projects in the previous two years. The statement did not provide data and a breakdown of each grant and what exactly the individual research projects were in relation to.

The only financial data provided by the ministry was in relation to coastal engineering projects aimed at protection intervention totalling $102 million. The statement described the rubble mound groyne for the Mon Repos area that would allow for sediment accumulation to occur providing for a more hospitable growth environment for seedlings. Rubble mound groynes in the Cane Garden, Leguan vicinity are currently 30 percent completed while the brushwood dams to support the same sediment building will commence shortly for the Buxton area.  The groynes and dams were add-ons to the mangroves project after it was found that the seedlings were not surviving the onslaught of wave action.

The statement mentioned the 100 meters of geotextile tubing that is currently proving successful to mangrove growth in the Victoria, Belfield area where the seedlings were previously washed away. That project cost was not included in the minister’s statement; however it was a $26 million project that commenced in November of last year.

There were some discrepancies in the statement released by the agriculture ministry and that of the data provided to Stabroek News previously by the European Union and the GMRP itself. The statement mentioned that 11 km was estimated to have been planted however the figure revealed by both the EU and the GMRP was five km inclusive of natural regrowth.

This month,  50,000 seedlings will be planted along 1.7 km in Kilmarnock, Corentyne. As the GMRP concludes this year it was recently revealed that the project, which intended for 11km to be restored has only managed to restore 5 km of that. The GMRP was a $1 billion project between the European Union and Guyana with financial support percolating down through budget support.

Engineers had in the past argued that planting mangroves was not good use of money as large numbers would not survive wave action and the  movement of mud flats. Though at least 5 km might have been planted, experts say at least another quarter of this could be lost over time.

The statement said that the success of mangrove management and protection is dependent on the participation of communities which use the mangrove forest. It noted that GMRP has set up five village mangrove action committees.

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