Greater Enforcement Needed in the Mining Sector to Prevent Biodiversity Loss

news-20150522-1May 22 was declared International Day for Biological Diversity by United Nations fifteen years ago to increase understanding and awareness of biodiversity issues. This year, International Day for Biological Diversity is celebrated under the theme, "Biodiversity for sustainable Development."
The theme reflects the importance of efforts made at all levels to establish a set of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as part of the United Nations Post-2015 Development Agenda for the period 2015-2030 and the relevance of biodiversity for the achievement of sustainable development.

The diverse and intact ecosystems, abundant ecosystem services, and low human population density of the Guiana Shield make it stand out globally as a region where proactive conservation of nature is possible even as countries develop. There are unique landscapes, abundant freshwater, high flora and fauna species endemism and mineral resources, all combined to make the ecoregion especially attractive to conservationists, development practitioners, and extractive industries.

Recognizing the importance of establishing biodiversity corridors to avoid landscape fragmentation and loss of species and habitats for biodiversity, the Guiana Shield Facility organized a Biodiversity Corridors Workshop from May 21-23, 2014 at Kurupukari, Guyana to streamline support for the achievement of the Aichi Biodiversity Targets.

This resulted in the development of the Kurupukari Action Plan which outlined several key initiatives to be undertaken by the Guiana Shield Facility (GSF) and partnering organizations.

Against this backdrop, the GSF has supported a study in Guyana on the impact of investment in the mining sector. The study revealed that the cumulative environmental impacts of mining on biodiversity includes degradation of water quality in area watersheds due to increases in sediment loads and inevitable contamination, as well as general degradation of habitat and increased deforestation leading to a reduction of biodiversity over time.

The report further stated that the large scale mining sector, led by Foreign Direct Investment (FDI), is just beginning to emerge in Guyana. The foreign investments compensate for the limitations of the domestic small and medium scale gold miners; bringing in much needed capital, advanced mining techniques, stringent environmental standards, better employment opportunities and engagement with local communities and domestic mining sector can benefit from the transfer of knowledge and increase in the local mining expertise.

This study will now serve as a guide to closely monitor the mining sector in Guyana and ensure the enforcement of environmental regulations to safeguard biodiversity for sustainable development.

On this Biodiversity Day, as the GSF continues to promote conservation and support sustainable development, it will continue to monitor the Guiana Shield which is one of the most intact ecosystems in the world that is increasingly under pressure from development and extractive industries.