Guyana Focusing on Greater Enforcement in the Gold Mining Sector to Increase Biodiversity Protection

Jun 9, 2015

EPA Executive Director, Dr. Indarjit Ramdass addressing participants at the Inception Workshop on September 23, 2014.

The Government of Guyana is collaborating with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the Global Environment Facility (GEF), and the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) to implement the “Enhancing Biodiversity Protection through Strengthened Monitoring, Enforcement and Uptake of Environmental Regulations in Guyana's Gold Mining Sector” project.

While gold mining is a key sector in Guyana’s economy and plays an important role in the country’s socio-economic development, it is the main driver of deforestation and forest degradation as well as biodiversity loss.

Inadequate management of tailings, little rehabilitation of mined-out areas, and various other practices are posing increasing threats to the extremely high levels of biodiversity and endemism found in Guyana. Non-compliance with mining related environmental regulations and illegal mining, insufficient personnel and institutional capacity to enforce the regulatory framework and insufficient capacity to implement the environmental regulations and codes of practices among miners were all cited as barriers hampering the mainstreaming of biodiversity in the gold mining sector.

This GEF medium sized project will strengthen monitoring and implementation of biodiversity friendly practices in Guyana’s gold mining sector to reduce biodiversity loss and maintain ecosystem functionality for the benefit of all Guyanese.

Against this backdrop the project is expected to achieve an enabling environment for monitoring and enforcement of environmental regulations and strengthened codes of practice as well as enhanced capacities for uptake of mining practices that promote biodiversity conservation.

Consequently, strategic and effective monitoring in high priority areas using satellite tracking devices will be done and once there is a breach, the Environmental Protection Agency is expected to issue enforcement notices, charge persons or companies in breach of the regulations and conduct mediation when necessary.

In addition, a number of seminars will be hosted to create increased awareness on mining related regulations and biodiversity issues. Courses will also be offered through the Mining School as the project seeks to create an integrated approach for biodiversity considerations.

As plans move ahead for the full implementation of the project, an inception workshop was held in September 23, 2014 and a report was prepared.  Almost all of the required equipment were procured and a number of activities are scheduled to commence shortly. These include training in satellite image interpretation, development of written training material, establishment of mechanism for sharing of satellite images and integration in GIS system and analysis of future improvements to increase usefulness of satellite tracking.

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