September 17, 2014

International Day for the Preservation of the Ozone Layer 2014

epa_1The United Nations International Day for the Preservation of the Ozone Layer is celebrated around the world, on September 16, each year. This year’s theme is “Ozone Layer Protection: The Mission Goes On.” Almost a generation ago (1987), the Montreal Protocol, an international treaty, was signed by many countries to protect the Ozone Layer and eliminate the use of ozone depleting substances. The commemoration around the world offers an opportunity to focus attention and action at the global, regional and national levels on the protection of the ozone layer.

The Ozone Layer

The Ozone Layer is a thin protective layer of naturally occurring gas – ozone, comprising three atoms of oxygen found about 10-50 kilometres above the Earth’s surface that protects us from the harmful ultraviolet radiation or UV-B rays of sun. Scientists in the 1970s discovered that the ozone layer was thinning as a result of the release of Chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), consequently, the Ozone Hole developed. In 1985, nations around the world convened at Vienna, Austria, in an attempt to develop a framework for cooperative activities to protect the Ozone Layer. This signed agreement became known as the Vienna Convention for the Protection of the Ozone Layer.

Ozone Layer Protection – A success story

Earth’s Ozone Layer may be on the path to recovery. Scientists have found that the concentrated, international action against ozone depleting substances has put our ozone back on track to regeneration. Satellites observed the largest ozone hole over Antarctica in 2006. Purple and blue represent areas of low ozone concentrations in the atmosphere; yellow and red are areas of higher concentrations.

The stratospheric Ozone Layer is a fragile shield of gas that protects our planet from the harmful ultraviolet rays of the sun. Without action during the Montreal Protocol, atmospheric levels of ozone-depleting substances could have increased tenfold by 2050, which would have led to about two million cases of skin cancer annually by 2030.

Now, it seems as if this won’t be in our Earth’s future. The phase-out of ozone depleting substances has had an effect. Yet, there are still challenges ahead: it turns out that some replacement substances are potent greenhouse gases (GHGs), which can be detrimental to our world’s climate.

Though the global cooperative efforts of countries, industries, communities and individuals are contributing to the “mending” of the ozone hole, as this year theme says “The Mission Goes On”.

Why care about the Ozone Layer?

  • The Ozone Layer acts as an atmospheric shield. All life on Earth depends on its protection from the lethal levels of ultraviolet radiation produced by the sun.

  • It can result in increased incidence of skin cancer, eye and immune system damage.

• Declines in crop yields of up to 50 per cent in some countries have been linked to increased amounts of incoming UV radiation. A thinner Ozone Layer is also a factor in the declining concentrations of phytoplankton that support aquatic food webs.

• Products emitting ozone-depleting substances are still produced and consumed throughout the world.

• Many ozone-depleting substances remain active in the atmosphere for 50 to 100 years.

• Most ozone-depleting substances are also greenhouse gases eg: CFCs

What can we do?

On this special day, primary and secondary school educators throughout the world are encouraged to organise classroom activities that focus on topics related to the Ozone Layer, climate change and ozone depletion

While the vast majority of ozone-depleting substances is either industrial or commercial, individuals can help in the following ways:

• Buy air-conditioning and refrigeration equipment that do not use HCFCs as refrigerant.

• Buy aerosol products that do not use HCFCs or CFCs as propellants.

• Conduct regular inspection and maintenance of air-conditioning and refrigeration appliances to prevent and minimise refrigerant leakage.

• When motor vehicle air-conditioners need servicing, make sure that the refrigerants are properly recovered and recycled instead of being vented to the atmosphere.

Human activities have significant effects on the environment, one of which is the depleting of the Ozone Layer. It’s time for us to reduce this contribution.

“The environment is everybody’s business”


You can share your ideas and questions by sending letters to: “Our Earth, Our Environment”, C/O EIT Division, Environmental Protection Agency, Ganges Street, Sophia, Georgetown, or email us at:

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International Coastal Cleanup 2014

epa_1International Coastal Cleanup (ICC) is a worldwide event initiated by Ocean Conservancy in 1986. It is celebrated on the third Saturday of September each year. Its aim is to engage citizens to remove trash and debris from beaches and waterways all around world, identify the sources and change the behavioural patterns that contribute to pollution. This year, ICC will be celebrated on September 20 under the theme “Turning the Tide on Trash.”

Where does the marine litter come from?

* Recreational activities

* Rubbish from fishing boat, ferry, boat/vessel operations

* Dumping activities such as from landfill site, household and construction.

* Refuse from medical health and personal hygiene products

epa_2Why is the problem so bad?

* People do not bother to throw rubbish into bins properly.

* Visitors to sea walls or picnic site left their food packages, bottles and forks behind without proper disposal.

* Rubbish throwing out from the boats because it is easier than bringing them ashore for proper disposal.

* Construction workers leaving rubbish and dumping refuse on reclamation and building sites.

* Restaurant operators not disposing of their waste properly.

Individual action

* Be responsible for the rubbish you generate. Don’t throw the rubbish in the sea when you are on a boat or at the sea wall. Take your rubbish and dispose of it properly in bins.

* In order to reduce the waste, you should support recycling

* Take part in the annual International Coastal Cleanup

Government action

* With the new Litter Enforcement Regulations persons can and will be fined for littering. Litter wardens are placed around the city to find and charge these “litter bugs” – they will soon be placed in other regions.

* Under the litter regulations it is an offence to litter in a public place or from a moving vehicle unto a public place. An individual found committing such acts will be fined $50,000 and in case of with company or organisation $100,000

Marine litter is a serious and worsening problem in marine and coastal environments worldwide. Sea turtles, which are one of the oldest creatures on Earth are imperiled. They are very susceptible to a range of threats posed by plastics and other trash than any other marine animal. When plastic blows, washes, or is dumped into the sea, it may remain intact for decades. However when it breaks down, it is only into smaller pieces. These plastic pieces are mistaken by marine wildlife for food and this leads to choking or strangulation.

During the International Coastal Cleanup, volunteers do their part to clean up plastic and other trash on the coast (seawall). In doing so, they raise awareness of the persistent problem of trash generated by a throwaway society, and encourage people to make better choices.


You can share your ideas and questions by sending letters to: “Our Earth, Our Environment”, C/O EIT Division, Environmental Protection Agency, Ganges Street, Sophia, Georgetown, or email us at:

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Protected areas of Guyana

35732-569-1(10)A protected area is an area of land which has been legally protected to preserve its resources, natural beauty or biological diversity or “biodiversity”.

The reasons for having a protected area are to conserve our natural and cultural resources and to protect important habitats and species for long term benefits for all Guyanese and the world.

Types of protected areas

These include:

Nature Reserve/ Wilderness Area − Managed for science or wilderness protection.

National Park − Managed for ecosystem protection and recreation.

Natural Monument − Managed for conservation of specific natural features.

Habitat/ Species Management Area − Managed for conservation through management intervention.

36587690Protected Landscape/ Seascape − Managed for landscape/ seascape conservation and recreation.

Managed Resource Protected Area − Managed for sustainable use of natural ecosystem.

Each type of protected area has different goals and ways of managing the unique resources they protect. Sometimes a protected area will be divided into sections or zones and each has its own type of rules and management. Protected areas balance the needs of wildlife and the needs of those persons who live nearby. Each should have enough space and resources to survive and prosper.

The protected areas of Guyana are:

adventures-guyana-walkway-bridgeKanuku Mountains

The Kanuku Mountains are located in the Rupununi Savannahs in southwestern Guyana and is one of the most ecologically diverse areas in the country. The Eastern Kanuku Mountains and the Western Kanuku Mountains are separated by the Rupununi River.

Healthy populations of many globally important species can be found in and around the mountains. The lowland forests sustain 60 per cent of all the known bird species in Guyana. Around 150 mammal species, or 80 per cent of all mammals found in Guyana, live in the Kanuku Mountains.


This 360,000 hectares protected area is found in the centre of Guyana. Approximately half is a wilderness preserve with the remainder being used for sustainable utilisation of resources. The Iwokrama Mountains constitute the principal geological features of the Iwokrama forest. They rise 800 metres above the surrounding plain. The mountains are underlain by hard granites and softer volcanic rocks.


Kaieteur National Park

Kaieteur National Park was officially established as a protected area in 1929 by the British Commonwealth and is currently one of Guyana’s protected areas. As a result of the high biodiversity and endemic flora and fauna, the area has a long and rich tradition of scientific investigation. Kaieteur also has an equally long tradition of visitation, with the primary attraction being the 741 foot waterfall, one of the highest in the Western Hemisphere. In addition, the area has unique geological attractions as well as large areas of primary tropical rainforest directly accessible from the core park area.

Shell Beach

Shell Beach was designated a protected area with the passage of the Protected Areas Act of 2011. The Shell Beach Protected Area (SBPA) is located in the north-west part of Guyana, in Region One, stretching over 120 kilometres of beach and mudflats. It covers an approximate area of 304,074.7 acres (123,055.2 hectares). It is bound, running south-east to north west, by the Moruca, Barabara, Biara, Baramani, and Waini rivers and is bound to the northeast by the Atlantic Ocean. It is categorised as an IUCN Category VI – Managed Resource Protected Area.

Guyana benefits from protected areas whereby its natural and cultural heritage will be conserved for Guyanese. There are many species of plants and animals with very valuable medicinal properties that have not been explored. It is quite possible that the cure for now incurable diseases may be developed from our forest. Therefore, it is essential that we protect our biodiversity – ecosystems and the animals and plants they support.

You can share your ideas and questions by sending letters to: “Our Earth, Our Environment”, C/O EIT Division, Environmental Protection Agency, Ganges Street, Sophia, Georgetown, or email us at:

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Wildlife and ecotourism

adventures-guyana-walkway-bridgeWildlife is any non-cultivated or non-domestic organism in the kingdom of animals, plants, protista[SR1], prokaryota and fungi.

Ecotourism is the “responsible travel to natural areas that conserves the environment and improves the well-being of local people. It is to allow for people to enjoy and appreciate nature, promote conservation, have a low visitor impact and provide for beneficially active socio-economic involvement of local peoples.”

Boasting some 75 per cent pristine rainforest, Guyana is a collective of complex biomes of[SR2] more than 8000 species. Guyana is a biologically diverse country where an abundance of wildlife can be discovered especially in pristine areas such as Kaieteur National Parks, Kanuku Mountains, Shell Beach and Iwokrama Rainforest Reserve among others.

Why conserve and

protect our wildlife?

Cango-Wildlife-Ranch-CollageWe are all connected in a chain and each link is important to the other for survival. The forest provides food (wildlife), medicine, building materials, etc, so loss of the forest or animals that live in it means loss of natural habits and ecosystems, ecotourism, carbon sinks, natural air and water purifiers and materials for building and construction.

With advances in transportation and information technology, even the most remote places on Earth are within reach of the traveller. In fact, tourism is now the world’s largest industry, with nature tourism the fastest growing segment.

Most tourism in natural areas today is not ecotourism and is not, therefore, sustainable. Ecotourism is distinguished by its emphasis on conservation, education, traveller responsibility and active community participation. Specifically, ecotourism possesses the following characteristics:

* Conscientious, low-impact visitor behaviour

* Sensitivity towards, and appreciation of, local cultures and biodiversity

* Support for local conservation efforts

* Sustainable benefits to local communities

* Local participation in decision-making

* Educational components for both the traveller and local communities

Increased tourism to sensitive natural areas without appropriate planning and management can threaten the integrity of ecosystems and local cultures. The increase of visitors to ecologically sensitive areas can lead to significant environmental degradation. Likewise, local communities and indigenous cultures can be harmed in numerous ways by an influx of foreign visitors and wealth. Additionally, fluctuations in climate, currency exchange rates, and political and social conditions can make over-dependence upon tourism a risky business.

However, this same growth creates significant opportunities for both conservation and local communities. Ecotourism can provide much-needed revenues for the protection of national parks and other natural areas – revenues that might not be available from other sources.

Additionally, ecotourism can provide a viable economic development alternative for local communities with few other income-generating options. Moreover, ecotourism can increase the level of education and activism among travellers, making them more enthusiastic and effective agents of conservation.

We all want to experience nature and the world, but we should try to do so in a way that doesn’t impact the natural environment.


You can share your ideas and questions by sending letters to: “Our Earth, Our Environment”, C/O EIT Division, Environmental Protection Agency, Ganges Street, Sophia, Georgetown, or email us at:

[SR1]common name in brackets e.g. single-celled organism; bacteria etc.

[SR2]see previous comment

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Youths and the environment

children-and-youth2The involvement of today’s youth in decision-making and programme implementation for environment and development is critical to the long-term success of a country.

Globally, youths have both special concerns and special responsibilities in relation to the environment. In today’s world, a number of environmental risks and hazards disproportionately affect young people, who have to live for an extended period with the deteriorating environment bequeathed to them by earlier generations. As such, young people will be compelled to engage in new forms of action and activism that will generate effective responses to ecological challenges.

Young people constitute a large part of the world’s population. Unfortunately, in some parts of the world, many, especially young children, are particularly vulnerable to environmental risks associated with, for example, access to clean and safe drinking water. It is also recognised that young people will have to live longer with the consequences of current environmental decisions than will their elders. Future generations will also be affected by these decisions and the extent to which they have addressed concerns such as the depletion of resources, the loss of biodiversity, and long-lived radioactive wastes.

epa_2Aside from having a greater stake in the more distant future, young people are especially well-placed to promote environmental awareness simply because they often have better access to information about the environment than do their elders. In part, this is a matter of having been exposed to more environmental education in schools or clubs. Aside from exposure in formal education, youths have lived all their lives in an era in which environmental issues have loomed large. Also, established anti-ecological ways of thinking and behaving are not ingrained in young people, and they can introduce fresh ideas and outlooks to issues.

Environmental education has an important role to play in the promotion of environmental awareness. It should be emphasised that environmental education, in its broadest and perhaps most important sense, is not formal schooling. Rather, it is a process of social learning in which young people and others are engaged in generating and transmitting knowledge as well as receiving it.

We all can take simple steps by being “eco”. We can reduce waste by ordering the right amount of food since much food is wasted each year. We can also reuse by transforming waste materials into practical and sustainable products and we can also recycle to reduce the environmental impact of waste disposal and conserve our natural resources.



You can share your ideas and questions by sending letters to: “Our Earth, Our Environment”, C/O EIT Division, Environmental Protection Agency, Ganges Street, Sophia, Georgetown, or email us at:

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Biodiversity Research in Guyana

EPAResearch is one of the priority areas identified in the National Biodiversity Action Plan in order to generate data on Guyana’s biological resources for sustainable management. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is responsible for coordinating research activities in conservation and protection of biodiversity.

In order to conduct biodiversity research in Guyana, a Research Permit must be acquired from the EPA. Here is the application process for biodiversity research:

 An application form along with supporting documents and application fee of US$75 must be submitted to the EPA three months before the commencement date of the research. Applications made in less than three months, require a late application fee of US$40.

Applications, along with supporting documents, must be submitted through the National Biodiversity Research Information System (NBRIS), which is an EPA initiative that was launched in August 2013.

The NBRIS consist of two database management applications; the WEB and LAN Modules.

The objectives of the web-based module are as follows:

* Facilitate electronic submission (ie, via electronic forms) of research applications for approval by the EPA;

* Facilitate enquiries by prospective researchers on the status of the application;

* Facilitate comments/suggestions made by other stakeholders reviewing the application;

* Allow researchers to modify and/or resubmit application-related information based on the responses from the EPA and/or stakeholders;

image022The LAN module is located on a server located within the EPA office. The LAN module is updated by the web-based module and is the final repository of all information submitted as part of the research application process. The LAN module is used to monitor all approved research activities most specifically in the following areas:

* Number of specimens taken overseas;

* Number of specimens returned;

* Number of specimens deposited with the competent authority;

* Species studied;

* Duration of research activities;

* Reports submitted by researchers; and

* Reports submitted by local and counterpart agencies.

The application also includes a Document Management System which provides indexed, retrievable electronic storage of all publications, research documents and images such as photos and maps. Information will also be maintained on all previous research activities which will serve as a guideline for reviewing future applications by the same researchers.

After the research is completed, researchers are required to submit a preliminary report, field notes, photographs and recordings to the EPA before they depart Guyana. They are also required to submit a copy of their final report once completed along with any other reports/publications based on the research.

Researchers wishing to export specimens collected under their Research Permit must apply for an Export Permit from the EPA. While the Agency welcomes the opportunity to explore Guyana’s biological resources for informed decision making; measures are put in place to ensure our biological wealth is protected and there are benefits to the country as well.

You can share your ideas and questions by sending letters to: “Our Earth, Our Environment”, C/O EIT Division, Environmental Protection Agency, Ganges Street, Sophia, Georgetown, or email us at:

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437x162_initiatives_leatherbacks_researchTurtles are an importance part of the ecosystem. Many persons may wonder why so much effort to protect sea turtles and why they are important. There are several reasons why we should protect sea turtles from becoming extinct!

One of the oldest groups of animals

Sea turtles have been on the earth, more or less unchanged in form, since before the dinosaurs and are probably one of the oldest groups of animals on earth. In many cultures around the world, sea turtles play a significant cultural and spiritual role.

Important predators

Some sea turtles feed on sea grasses and coral and play an important role in keeping the animals and plants of the reef in check. Without them, some species of seaweed, coral, or sponge might grow too much and cause other species of reef animals or plants to die off.

One of the least aggressive forms of wildlife

Sea turtles provide a unique chance to see a large wild animal up close in its natural habitat, at a very vulnerable time. It is hard to see most animals during their reproductive cycle, yet it is possible to watch turtles from the time their mother lays them as an egg, to the point where they hatch and run onto the beach. It is both an important educational tool and a strong attraction for people all round the world.

Enough is not known about sea turtles

Scientists all around the world are studying aspects of the biology of sea turtles from sight and hearing to metabolism and digestion, given their history of long life, they may hold the key in resolving some of the biodiversity survival issues.

Status of turtles

Turtles don’t only live in the sea but also in freshwater. There are only seven existing saltwater species, according to the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), of which three are classified as Critically Endangered by International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and three as Endangered. Of the 263 species of freshwater and terrestrial turtles, 117 species are considered Threatened, 73 are either Endangered or Critically Endangered and one is Extinct.

Why are turtles rapidly disappearing? What are the concerns?

* Habitat loss and degradation

* Wildlife trade

* Collection of eggs and meat for consumption

* Incidental capture

* Climate change

* Pollution


How can we protect the remaining turtles?

* Don’t purchase a turtle or tortoise from a pet shop as it increases demand from the wild.

* Don’t remove turtles or tortoises from the wild unless they are sick or injured.

* Do not purchase turtle meat or eggs. This will discourage illegal hunters.

* Do not remove turtle eggs or consume their meat.

* Learn more about the importance of turtles and what you can do to help.

* Report cruelty, entanglement or illegal sales of turtles or tortoises to the Environmental Protection Agency.


You can share your ideas and questions by sending letters to: “Our Earth, Our Environment”, C/O EIT Division, Environmental Protection Agency, Ganges Street, Sophia, Georgetown, or email us at:

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Best practices for spray painting operations

banner22In recent years, there has been an emergence of an increasing number of automobile spray painting shops. No doubt, this is associated with the increasing number of vehicles being imported into the country which provide steady business for these shops. Also, locally, the   auto sales business is highly competitive, creating the need for vehicles to be regularly sprayed to enhance their visual appeal to customers.

Though business is a good thing, it is a fact that spray painting poses health and environmental risks if best practices are not followed. An observed trend is that many spray painting shops begin as small operations in residential areas but soon expand to a larger scale thereby magnifying the risks to nearby residents and shop operators alike. These risks are associated with Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) which are released during the spray-painting operation.

Cognisant of the risks associated with spray painting shops, the Environmental Protection Agency developed Environmental Guidelines for these operations to safeguard the health and safety of workers as well as persons who reside in close proximity to such operations. Over the coming weeks we will be focusing on the Spray Painting Guidelines beginning this week with best practices.


Wayne - new custom spray booth 500• Spray painting shops, should be located in a commercial or industrial area and not a residential area and at least 50 metres (164 feet) away from the nearest residence.

• Shops should not be in close proximity to dust producing facilities as dust will greatly affect the coating quality.

Setting up

Spraying must be done in booths or rooms that are constructed with non–flammable materials, such as steel, concrete and brick.

Booth walls must be smooth and without edges to avoid the trapping of residue.

Booth floors and fire doors must be non-flammable since chemicals used in spray painting can explode in the event of a fire.

Booths should be adequately ventilated to keep vapours and paint away from other work areas or have an exhaust vent to remove them.

Booth exhaust vents should be at least two metres above the highest roof in the surrounding area and equipped with an effective filter or water wash system to reduce emissions.

Handling Equipment

Workers should be trained in the proper use of spray-painting materials.

The spray-gun should be held at a right angle to the surface being sprayed.

The distance between the spray gun’s tip and painting surface should be maintained based on the equipment specifications. (This will give the proper coat thickness, and minimise the use of more coats and so help to reduce VOC emissions).

Choose spray equipment that will cause the most paint to be applied to the surface when sprayed, eg, HVLP – High Volume Low Pressure paint gun.

Determine the type of coating that will be sprayed through the equipment and use the paint gun that works best for the application of such coating. Follow the manufacturer suggestions regarding air pressure and tip sizes for the specific product and equipment being used.

Preparing for spraying and topcoats

Wash dirt/grime from the vehicle using water or a soap and water mixture.

Water-based cleaners can be used to remove sanding, sludge, fingerprints, waxes and other contaminants.

Use solvent-based cleaners sparingly; mostly to remove grease, road tar, silicone, and driveline oils.

Choose products that lessen the need for additional surface coating.

Choose prep coats, primers and sealers in colours that can be easily covered with the topcoat.

Apply only the number of coats needed to achieve a quality finish.

Avoid the use of lacquer-based topcoats.

Keep the use of paint additives to a minimum.

When available, use water-based coats.

Use low VOC primer-surfacers, primer-sealers such as Chrome-Free Etch Primer, Epoxy

Primer-Sealers, and top coats products such as low VOC Lacquer Topcoats.

Avoid zinc-phosphate primers with high VOC content.

As much as possible, perform body work using a minimal amount of primer-surfacer.

Next week we will examine other aspects of the Spray Painting Guidelines.

Share your ideas and questions by sending letters to: “Our Earth, Our Environment”, C/O EIT Division, Environmental Protection Agency, Ganges Street, Sophia, Georgetown, or email us at:

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Coastal and marine resources of Small Island Developing States (SIDS)

EPA_1This year, 2014 is designated United Nations Year of Small Island Developing States (SIDS). Let’s take a closer look at this topic by examining the vulnerability of the coastal and marine resources of SIDS.

Coastal resources include the coastal waters of a country and all natural resources found there – marine life, wildlife habitats, and adjacent shores. Marine resources, on the other hand, are the physical features and biological species and communities that are found in seas and oceans that are beneficial to man, eg fish, coral reefs and crabs, fungi, etc.

SIDS have small land area, but large coastal areas because they are islands surrounded by the sea. The coastal environment is, therefore, particularly important to SIDS, both for livelihoods and for the country’s revenue. It is typical to have conflict related to the demands for coastal space and its resources.

SIDS are heavily dependent on coastal and marine resources for their livelihood, including food security. They have the responsibility for a significant portion of the world’s oceans, but have limited means to adequately manage their marine resources due to their small size.

It is a reality that many SIDS fishery resources are over-exploited, conflicts arise between competitive marine resource uses (eg fisheries and tourism), and coastal habitats are being degraded. In particular, mangroves and coral reefs are being destroyed, leading to loss of habitat for species and thus, loss of an important food supply and source of income. Outstripping of sand and aggregate materials (used for construction and landfill) is further depleting resources.

EPA_2Degradation of critical marine habitats and resources need to be prevented through the establishment of marine reserves and sound management of resources, possibly through community-based and ecosystem-oriented approaches.

Conflict is often as a result of high and increasing population densities on the coast and by the development of economic sectors such as tourism. For both terrestrial and marine environments, difficulties in planning and implementing effective integrated approaches to resource management are reflected in over-exploitation of particular resources, pollution and degradation of land and water ecosystems, and acute conflicts between competing resource uses.

Sustainable management of marine resources would include the following:

  • monitoring,

  • control,

  • surveillance,

  • compliance and

  • enforcement.

EPA_3Destructive fishing practices; over-fishing; illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing and subsidies that contribute to fishing overcapacity continue to degrade marine resources, and undermine food security and sustainable development of SIDS.

The sustainable development of SIDS, including the eradication of poverty, depends on the health and vitality of the marine and coastal environment, the sustainable management and conservation of marine and coastal resources, and the enabling of SIDS to enjoy a greater share of the benefits derived from those resources.

The 2014 international year of SIDS aims to highlight the challenges facing these countries and to galvanise global action to enable these countries to adequately plan for the impact of climate change on their already vulnerable coastal resources.


You can share your ideas and questions by sending letters to: “Our Earth, Our Environment”, C/O EIT Division, Environmental Protection Agency, Ganges Street, Sophia, Georgetown; or email us at

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Sustainable Land Management and Agriculture

farm.SMALL_Sustainable Land Management (SLM) aims to balance the needs of people, economies, and environment, while minimising the negative impacts associated with each form of land use. More specifically, it is “the use of land resources, including soils, water, animals and plants, for the production of goods to meet changing human needs, while simultaneously ensuring the long-term productive potential of these resources and the maintenance of their environmental functions” (UN Earth Summit, 1992).

Understanding the link

In order to be safe and content, people need access to shelter, healthy food, clean drinking water, and cultural nourishment. These can be provided by a well-functioning local economy that supports local people for the long term through the provision of opportunities to earn adequate income and aid the provision of important services such as schools, hospitals, and trade centres. Of course, the economy depends on the resources of the natural environment, which provides vital ecosystem services – food, air, soils, water, etc. However, these services will only continue to be available if the environment remains in a healthy state, with rich biodiversity and well-functioning ecosystems.

SLM is, therefore, crucial to minimising land degradation, rehabilitating degraded areas, and ensuring the optimal use of land resources.

SLM Benefits

SLM should be of concern to all of us for the following reasons:

Food and fibre – it helps to meet the rising food and fibre demands while sustaining ecosystem services and livelihoods.

Growing population – It is necessary to meet the requirements of a growing population.

Land productivity – It involves preserving and enhancing the productive capabilities of land in cropped and grazed areas.

Sustenance of forests – It aids in sustaining productive forest areas and forest reserves and maintaining the integrity of watersheds for water supply and hydropower generation needs and water conservation zones and the capability of aquifers to serve farm and other productive activities.

The agricultural sector contributes around 30 per cent of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of Guyana. The vast majority, 95 per cent, of this important sector is based on the coastland because of the favourable climatic conditions and richer soil. In order to make the shift to more sustainable modes of agriculture, it is important to understand current practices threaten the longevity of the sector and the quality and quantity of produce.

Common SLM principles

Land degradation had accelerated during the 20th Century, due to increasing and combined pressures of agricultural and livestock production (over-cultivation, overgrazing, forest conversions); urbanisation; deforestation; and extreme weather events such as droughts and coastal surges. The SLM approach utilises four common principles to address this problem:

Land-user-driven and participatory approaches;

Integrated use of natural resources at ecosystem and farming systems levels;

Multi-level and multi-stakeholder involvement; and

Targeted policy and institutional support, including development of incentive mechanisms for SLM adoption and income generation at the local level.

Collaboration and partnership

The application of SLM requires collaboration and partnership at all levels – land users, technical experts and policymakers – to ensure that the causes of the degradation and corrective measures are properly identified, and that the policy and regulatory environment enables the adoption of the most appropriate management measures.

SLM is considered essential for sustainable development and plays a key role in bringing together the complementary, yet historically conflicting goals of production and environment. Thus one of the most important aspects of SLM is this important union of agriculture and environment through twin objectives of maintaining long-term productivity of the ecosystem functions (land, water, biodiversity) and increasing productivity (quality, quantity and diversity) of goods and services, and particularly safe and healthy food.


You can share your ideas and questions by sending letters to: “Our Earth, Our Environment”, C/O EIT Division, Environmental Protection Agency, Ganges Street, Sophia, Georgetown, or email us at:

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