Countries of the Guiana Shield are pursuing policies within the framework of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) that emphasise the importance of establishing biodiversity corridors to avoid landscape fragmentation and loss of species and habitats for biodiversity. Cooperation among the countries is required to pursue and achieve this global commitment.

Against the backdrop, the GSF launched the Guiana Shield Priority Setting Platform (GSPSP) as a tool for knowledge exchange, communication and cooperation within the Guiana Shield. It is expected to serve as an avenue to facilitate and support efforts at biodiversity connectivity corridors for the achievement of the Aichi Biodiversity Targets. The GSPSP is based on ArcGIS Online for organisations and is a web based application that allows sharing of geographic information as well as access to content published by Esri, ArcGIS users and other providers.

In addition, the GSF is a major institutional expression of the commitments of the globally binding Multilateral Environmental Agreements (MEAs) to conserve, protect and sustainably use the biodiversity of the planet[1], to keep the average rise of atmospheric temperature below 2 0C compared with pre-industrial levels[2] and to protect the rights of indigenous peoples to their territories and of access to their natural resources and to thus protect their livelihoods and cultures in ways they deem fit. Given the global and regional ecological significance of the Guiana Shield ecoregion and the fact that the MEAs, of which the GSF is one of the institutional expressions, all contain provisions of the transfer of finance and technology which are legally also of a binding nature. The GSF and its "predecessor" the Guiana Shield Initiative (GSI) have from the beginning - and continue to do so - supported the position that there is a strong rationale for transfers between the international community and those responsible for maintaining the ecological and cultural integrity of the Guiana Shield.

The GSF, however, has also always maintained the position that these transfers should not just be "hand-outs from rich to poor", but elements of a contractual arrangement between equal partners in which the global community through the MEAs and the institutions implementing the agreements[3] compensate those who are indeed responsible for maintaining the ecological and cultural integrity of the Shield.[4]

 

The operating premise of the GSF is that providing incentives for the conservation of the unique ecosystems of the Guiana Shield towards ensuring the long-term delivery of its globally important environmental services will contribute to poverty reduction and will help an eco-region beset by threats such as: (il)legal deforestation, (il)legal mining, water pollution, social and health problems connected to mining, poaching of wildlife, and lack of a coordinated framework for planning, priority setting and management of natural resources.

It is under this theoretical framework that the GSF created an interdisciplinary database to:

  • Inform scientific research on the floral and faunal biodiversity of the ecoregion
  • Provide governments, communities, researchers and others with the tools to assess conservation and development objectives
  • Provide policy makers with the tools to assess impacts on the ecosystems and peoples of the ecoregion
  • Expand understanding of the threats to the local, national, regional and global provisioning of public goods and services via payment for ecosystem services
  • Foster a greater sense of community among Guiana Shield countries

news-20150923-2The GSPSP therefore forms part of the GSF interdisciplinary database to monitor the drivers of deforestation, and to provide inputs for biodiversity and ecosystem monitoring for Payment for Ecosystem Services (PES).

This platform is the only one of its kind in the Guiana Shield for organisations and users to localize, analyse, visualize, monitor and exchange spatial and non-spatial information. This will in turn contribute to the conservation of the Guiana Shield ecoregion's unique ecosystems and cultural diversity and associated biodiversity and ecosystem services, through flexible delivery of financial, scientific and technical resource to the development at national and regional levels.

news-20150923-1The GSPSP consists of maps, data, apps and tools which allows users and publishers to add items, create web maps, share content, participate in groups, and customize the view of the site. Publishers have the added privilege to publish hosted services. A demonstration video can be accessed by clicking here. The video focuses on publishing hosted services, publishing a hosted tile package from ArcGIS for desktop, all users - creating map within ArcGIS online for GSPSP, adding data from a text file to your map and symbolizing and configuring your data.


[1] Biodiversity here understood as defined in the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) referring to the diversity of ecosystems (for5ests, wetland, marine systems, etc.), species and genetic diversity within species.

[2] This is at the moment the most pragmatic summary of the objectives of climate change policies under the UN Framework convention on climate Change (UNFCCC). There are many more specific objectives on a more detailed level

[3] These institutions so far have been the Dutch government, the European Union, UNDP, IUCN Netherlands, Conservation International directly financing the GSI/F, with many other entities in a co-financing capacity

[4] The major format for these contractual arrangements and therefore also for the distribution of the GSF resources have been the Payments-for-Ecosystem Services (PES) contracts, in which "payments" have to be construed as any meaningful and culturally appropriated compensation for those who contribute to maintain the integrity of the ecoregion. They could range from indeed monetary compensation to healthy and education facilities, legal advice to protect territorial interests, advanced monitoring devices in the form of handheld instruments to do the same. A good example of a PES contract is the GSI contract between UNDP and Iwokrama in Guyana: http://www.guianashield.org/index.php/news-2/139-gsi-first-contract?tmpl=component&type=raw . The full contract is attached as PDF.