news-20141114-1A symposium on Protected Areas in the Guiana Shield commenced in French Guiana on Monday, October 13, 2014. The event was hosted in observance of the Sepanguy's 50th anniversary and a follow up of the Kurukupari Plan of Action developed at the Guiana Shield Biodiversity Corridors Workshop hosted in May, 2014 by the Guiana Shield Facility (GSF).

The GSF has partnered with the host agency to bring together experts from countries of the Guiana Shield to participate in the symposium to contribute to the knowledge, and the management of biodiversity as well as explore the subject of research, recommendations and actions in the fight against climate change and equally important examining the subject of a shared governance with indigenous peoples in protected areas.

The symposium kicked off with a technical presentation by Dr. Mark Wright from the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) on protected areas in the Guiana Shield. This was followed by two roundtables which examined the economic value of biodiversity and the other focused on research.

The day's presentations and discussions focused on a call for good governance of protected areas. "Governing nature means governing people" since many actors want to use the same territory. To this end, it was noted that as development takes place, there will be forest loss but the big questions are:

  • What are we prepared to lose?
  • How do we balance the legitimate needs with the need for conservation?
  • How to plan for dynamic changes?
  • How do we speak to the non-conservationist?

It was therefore recognized that partnership with indigenous and local communities is key to protected areas conservation. During the presentation and discussions, it was agreed that ownership rights has to be defined and trust must be built with the communities.
Moreover, it was recommended that indigenous communities fully monitor the protected areas using management plans. It is believed that conservation is profitable and with proper management and community participation, sustainable development can be easily achieved.

The more than one hundred participants mainly Scientists, Indigenous Leaders, University Students and representative from Non-Governmental Organizations, recommended that the underlying causes of biodiversity loss be addressed by mainstreaming biodiversity across governments and society, engage in good research practices, and improve data management for decision making and frequent consultations with indigenous and local communities.

The symposium concluded on Wednesday, October 15, 2014 where participants made a call to foster collaboration between the countries that share the Guiana Shield to continuously exchange ideas and share knowledge on protected areas management.