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University of Guyana setting up Biodiversity Research Centre

The University of Guyana (UG) last month announced plans to establish an International Center for Biodiversity Research and Low Carbon Development (ICBR).

UG vice-chancellor Lawrence Carrington said in a press release that “the purpose of the initiative is to support the implementation of a Low Carbon Development Strategy for Guyana in keeping with the perspectives of the Government.”

The university, based in Georgetown, says the proposed centre should help attract inward investment and foster sustainable economic development from its forests.

In essence, Guyana will maintain its forest cover as lungs for the rest of the planet, to try to compensate for the excess heat-trapping carbon gasses pushed into the atmosphere by humans.

Funds earned from greenhouse-gas polluting countries and industries, in return for Guyana’s carbon-sequestering services, will be applied to the country’s development.

The centre could become the hub for national, Caribbean and international research networks, enhancing knowledge of Guyana’s biodiversity assets.

The centre would also focus on the role of biodiversity in global low carbon development strategies, and offer training in better natural resources management.

A conceptual framework was drafted by UG stakeholders in June, along with a technical workshop attended by participants such as Ed Satshko, vice-president of the non-profit Organization for Tropical Studies, which has its headquarter in Costa Rica but has grown to include 63 universities and research institutions around the world.

The University of Guyana received financial support for the meetings from the Guyana branch of Conservation International, Guyana’s Iwokrama International Centre for Rainforest Research and Development, and the US-based Clinton Climate Change Initiative. The university plans a feasibility study for the proposed institute next.

“Guyana’s biodiversity has special value to the world over and above the carbon services that it provides,” the university stated.

Prior to the United Nations’ 1992 Rio de Janeiro Earth Summit, Guyana set aside a significant portion of its territory for the Iwokrama rainforest research centre – one of the few countries to take such decisive action.

* Neil Marks is an environmental reporter with Capitol News and Kaieteur News in Georgetown, Guyana. Email him at: thestarneil@gmail.com.