Dedicated as a place for research “to develop, demonstrate, and make available to Guyana and the international community systems, methods and techniques for the sustainable management and utilisation of the multiple resources of the Tropical Forest and the conservation of biological diversity”, the Iwokrama rainforest is located in the geographical heart of Guyana. It comprises 371,000 hectares of forest (1.6% of Guyana’s landmass and 2% of Guyana forests).
The Iwokrama Centre was established in 1996 to manage the forest area, following signature the year before of an international agreement between the Guyana Government and the Commonwealth Secretariat. Enshrined in an Act of the Guyana Parliament, the agreement gave the Centre the mandate to “promote the conservation and the sustainable and equitable use of tropical rainforests in a manner that will lead to lasting ecological, economic and social benefits to the people of Guyana and to the world in general”. In short, the Centre has the task to test the proposition that conservation, environmental balance and sustainable economic activity are mutually reinforcing – that it is possible to use a forest without losing it.
The rainforest is equally divided (for experimental purposes) into a wilderness preserve and a sustainable utilisation area. There have been for the last 12 years intensive baseline studies of the forest and the development of models for sustainable forest management in close co-operation with the local communities. The first 5 years of the Centre’s closely supervised and scientifically based sustainable timber operation came to an end early in 2012 and the Centre is now exploring a second phase operation.
Supervised by the IIC’s CEO and his team under the strategic policy direction of the IIC’s International Board of Trustees, Iwokrama conducts:
- Up to date scientific research into the impacts of climate change on the forest;
- Ground breaking steps to measure and evaluate the contribution which Iwokrama’s natural services make to the forest’s overall financial value;
- Four core self-supporting businesses – selective timber harvesting, eco-tourism, forest management training and the forest’s services – putting into practice 12 years of intensive experience of conservation and sustainable forest management since the IIC’s foundation;
- Innovative governance models of business development which include private sector and local community participation through shareholding agreements;
- A unique form of devolved governance (enshrined in the Act of Parliament) placed in the hands of international trustees; and most important of all
- Close knit relationships with the local communities, based on equality and mutual trust, which help drive the co-management of Iwokrama and its multi-dimensional resources.
Commonwealth organizations, including the Commonwealth Secretariat, the Commonwealth Foundation and the Commonwealth Forestry Association, continue to be important and much valued sponsors and partners of Iwokrama. The Commonwealth Secretariat is currently assisting with laying the basis for a new programme relating to hydrology and the impacts of climate change on the forest, as well as the expansion and greater availability of the Centre’s archives.
Vision & Mission
By 2015, IIC intends to become the leading international authority on development of models for commercially sustainable, practical and community-inclusive conservation businesses based on tropical forests and their natural assets.
IIC’s mission is to promote conservation and the sustainable and equitable use of tropical rainforests in a manner that will lead to lasting ecological, economic and social benefits to the people of Guyana and to the world in general by undertaking research, training and the development and dissemination of technologies.
Iwokrama Board of Trustees
Chairman, Dr. R.K. Pachauri – Chairman of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change; Vice-Chairman, Dr. Cyrus Rustomjee – Director Economic Affairs Division Commonwealth Secretariat; The Hon Carolyn Rodrigues-Birkett, Minister of Foreign Affairs; James Singh, Commissioner for Forests; Andrew Bishop, Adviser to The President; Sydney Allicock, Chairman Surama Eco-Lodge; Sachin Kapila, Manager Environmental Footprint Innovation, Shell UK; Dr Elizabeth Losos, President and CEO, Organisation for Tropical Studies; Dr. Kenrick R. Leslie CBE, Executive Director,Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre; Dane Gobin, IIC CEO and Secretary to the Board.
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