The Iwokrama Science Committee held its inaugural meeting earlier this month where brainstorming sessions on a new research strategy for the Iwokrama forest conservation programme were held.
A release from the Iwokrama International Centre (IIC) yesterday said that the inaugural meeting took place at the Iwokrama River Lodge on February 12-13, 2018 with key Iwokrama staffers in attendance.
Initial members of the Science Committee include Professor Kamal Bawa (University of Massachusetts, Boston and ATREE Trust), Dr. Braulio Ferreira De Souza (former Executive Secretary of Convention for Biological Diversity, Dr. Thomas Wagner (Edinburgh University), Dr. Patrick Chesney (Agro Forestry Expert and formerly of UNDP), Calvin Bernard (University of Guyana), Andrew Mitchell (Global Canopy Programme), Dane Gobin (CEO, Iwokrama) and Dr. Raquel Thomas (Iwokrama).
The release said that a meeting was also held with representatives of the North Rupununi District Development Board (NRDDB), including the Toshao of Fair View Village on areas that they would like to see targeted. Fair View is the only village of the 20 NRDDB villages located within the Iwokrama Forest.
In November 2017, the release noted that Iwokrama announced a new partnership with ExxonMobil which provided an investment of $62 Million Guyana Dollars (US$300,000) to support Iwokrama in the re-launch of its Science Programme.
The intention will be to action key scientific research within the Iwokrama forest and its environs, the release added.
This initial contribution from ExxonMobil has provided support for the setting up of the Iwokrama Science Committee, commission research and gap baseline studies, based on the advice of the Commit-tee members, to guide a more comprehensive programme on biodiversity and other relevant research.
More meetings will be held during the first half of the year with the expectation that a new five-year science programme will be developed by June 2018, the release said.
Iwokrama had its genesis in 1989 at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Summit in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia when the late President Desmond Hoyte offered to set aside 371,000 hectares of virgin rainforest in Guyana for studies to aid sustainable logging and related matters.
The forest is zoned into a Sustainable Utilization Area and a Wilderness Preserve in which to test the concept of a truly sustainable forest.
Over the years, the IIC has struggled to find a viable financial model and has had to seek financing from a variety of sources.