Guyana working on pilot project to integrate indigenous practices into national policy


By Devina Samaroo

A UK-funded initiative in Guyana which aims to integrate indigenous traditional knowledge including skills and practices into a national environmental conservation policy is likely to be a pilot project for the other countries in the Guiana Shield.

This project is being undertaken by the Darwin Initiative which was launched in 1992 to fund projects that help countries rich in bio-diversity to meet objectives as it relates to environmental conservation and poverty reduction.

British High Commissioner Gregory Quinn

Project Leader Dr. Jay Mistry during an event hosted by the British High Commissioner Monday evening said she is hopeful that the initiative in Guyana can be used as a pilot project for other countries.

“We’re also looking at how we can replicate some of the findings in the Guiana Shield regions because in a previous project we worked through the Guiana Shield, but maybe also worldwide,” she stated.

Countries in the Guiana Shield are Guyana, Suriname, Brazil, Venezuela, French Guiana and Colombia.

Minister of Indigenous Peoples Affairs, Sydney Allicock welcomed this initiative, noting that traditional knowledge in Guyana is rapidly disappearing.

“If we have no proper and approved recorded documentation on traditional knowledge, we will certainly lose it and we cannot afford this,” he said, noting that these skills and practices must be passed down to generations.

British High Commissioner Gregory Quinn noted that the Darwin Initiative has funded 8 projects in Guyana since 1994.


The Integrating Traditional Knowledge project commenced in July and will end in 2021. Various partners in this project are the Environmental Protection Agency, Protected Areas Commission, South-Central People’s Development Association and the North Rupununi District Development Board (NRDDB), University of London, United Nations Environmental Programme, and the World Conservation Monitoring Centre.

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