The Iwokrama International Centre is encouraging students to speak out about littering and protect their environment as it embarks on its annual school outreach programme. the students were also encouraged to pursue a career in biology by Huichang Yang, a Biologist working with the Centre.
She underscored the importance of protecting animals, as she pointed to the importance of the Iwokrama Forest to the country’s biodiversity.
Yang highlighted that in 2005, of the 225 species of mammals in Guyana, some 130 are found at Iwokrama; of the 814 species of birds in the country, 476 are found at Iwokrama; of the 176 species of reptiles, 82 are found at Iwokrama; of the 148 amphibians, 59 are found at Iwokrama; of the more than 800 species of fish, 400 are found at Iwokrama; and of the more than 8000 species of plants, 1250 are found at Iwokrama.
These numbers have increased over the past fourteen years.
According to a statement from Iwokrama, a team has visited students of the Kingston, Tutorial and Dolphin’s High Schools and the Ptolemy Reid Centre last week as part of the exercise which will conclude later this month.
For the High Schools, Iwokrama team interacted with higher-level students who hail from the Agriculture, Science and Arts Streams.
“The aim of the initiative is to enlighten students across the country about Guyana’s rich biodiversity and how they can play a part in protecting it,” the Centre stated.
The outreach informed the students about the country’s protected areas; the Iwokrama Forest, the Kanuku Mountains, Shell Beach, the Kaieteur National Park established in 1929 and the Konashen Amerindian Protected Area – which is home to the country’s most remote indigenous tribe, the Wai-Wais.
Iwokrama does work in the areas of sustainable forestry management, research and tourism.
Dr Raquel Thomas-Caesar, Director, Resource Management and Training, charged the students to be guardians of their environment as she encouraged them to speak out against littering.
She explained the harmful effects of improper garbage disposal, especially for marine animals like sea turtles who mistake plastic in the oceans for food.
At the Tutorial High, some students expressed an interest in setting up their own environmental club; the Iwokrama team committed to provide assistance in the establishment of the club.
Iwokrama team handed over several informative materials to all the schools visited, including guides to the birds, mammals and plants of Iwokrama and educational posters.
Joining the team for some of the outreach activities are Gavin Mendonca and Chucky who delighted the students with folk songs.
For the remainder of the month, Iwokrama will be reaching out to other secondary schools such as Charlestown, Central High, St John’s College, North Georgetown and Christ Church. A session will also be held with The Blind Society.
The Iwokrama International Centre (IIC) was established in 1996 under a joint mandate from the Government of Guyana and the Commonwealth Secretariat to manage the Iwokrama forest, a unique reserve of 371,000 hectares of rainforest to ensure lasting ecological, economic and social benefits.