New rainforest research centre to help Guyana protect forests, inspire youth


The new Sophia Point Rainforest Centre, situated at the confluence of the Cuyuni, Mazaruni and Essequibo rivers, promises to advance forest conservation efforts in Guyana while inspiring Guyanese youth.

The not-for-profit centre was founded by United Kingdom Parliamentarian David Lammy and his wife, Nicola Green. It is located about two and a half hours away from the capital city, Georgetown and will allow researchers, academics and students Guyana’s vast forests.

Mr. Lammy, who has Guyanese heritage, is the co-founder of the research centre and said he always hoped that one day he’d be able to give back to Guyana.

And he travelled to Guyana to inaugurate the centre at a ceremony at the University of Guyana’s Turkeyen campus on Tuesday. He was joined by President Dr. Irfaan Ali and Former UK Prime Minister Tony Blair.

For him, this centre was necessary to add to forest research and conservation efforts done through the Iwokrama Research Centre in Guyana.

“If you look around the globe to comparable countries, you can see what the standard is.

“Costa Rica, which is four times smaller than Guyana, has 44 research stations,” he pointed out.

President Dr. Irfaan Ali, Former UK Prime Minister Tony Blair and UK Parliamentarian David Lammy at the University of Guyana’s Turkeyen campus (Photo: Delano Williams/ August 29, 2023)

Similarly, he told the university audience that Panama, a country three times smaller than Guyana, has about 12 interconnected sites run by the Smithsonian.

So he pointedly said, “Guyana deserves more.”

For context, Guyana’s forests cover an area the size of England. The forests store over 19.5 gigatonnes of carbon which if cut down, would release all of that into the atmosphere, further causing harm to the environment.

But Guyana has been protecting those forests for years; it is focused on ways on sustainably managing those forests and earning from its forest protection efforts.

Mr. Lammy believes that research must be a crucial part of forest conservation effort, as is reflected in Guyana’s national Low Carbon Development Strategy (LCDS), but emphasised that local capacity must be a huge focus.

It is for that reason, he said, the centre will work with the nearby River’s View Indigenous community and more broadly, Guyana’s academia.

He said it will not be a space for foreign researchers to extract Guyana’s knowledge.

“It is not about western scientists flying into Guyana and flying out of Guyana, taking the science out of Guyana.

“We want to bring an end of that extractive model,” Mr. Lammy said.

And if these plans are executed as envisioned, the Parliamentarian believes that more Guyanese youth can be inspired to help protect the environment.

“It’s a space for young Guyanese to be inspired and inspire others to better protect the vital rainforest and to equip themselves with the knowledge and the skills to inspire generations to come,” the UK Parliamentarian said.

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