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The Wai Wai, The Government of Guyana and Conservation International (Guyana) sign Memorandum of Cooperation

The Wai Wais of Southern Guyana (Konashen), the Government of Guyana and Conservation International Guyana (CIG) have signed a tripartite Memorandum of Cooperation (MOC) for assistance in establishing a Community Owned Conservation Area. This agreement follows a request made by the Wai Wai community of Konashen, to the Government of Guyana, for Conservation International (Guyana), to assist them in the process of developing a plan for their lands in the Konashen District (approximately 600,000 ha or one million acres) to be managed as a Community Owned Conservation Area. CIG has been pleased to accede to the request to assist in the process towards establishing, a Community Owned Conservation Area.

The MOC was signed after extensive consultations with the members of the community and after all the consultations were completed. The community has since welcomed the process and is now better informed about the community owned conservation process.

The Minister of Amerindian Affairs, Ms. Carolyn Rodrigues, who initially received the request from the Wai Wais said that this is indeed a step in the right direction and signifies the Wai Wais commitment to sustainable utilization. The Wai Wais have a particular relationship with the land and have long practiced sustainability. However, they have recognized that marrying traditional knowledge and modern technology can only be an incentive for the proper management of the area. The Minister hopes that other communities would also recognize the need to manage their natural resources since there have been several instances of mismanagement especially as it relates to logging activities.

The Government issued title to more than 1 million acres of Wai Wai lands in February 2004. The request from the Wai Wais to have the area declared a community owned conservation area came immediately thereafter.

“I am particularly pleased that Conservation International has agreed to collaborate with the Wai Wais.”- Minister Rodrigues.

Under the MOC, which will provide a framework for the implementation of the process, the Wai Wai have requested CIG’s assistance to jointly develop land and resource use practices that satisfy Wai Wai needs, while also conserving ecosystems and biodiversity

The process will involve:

  • Working together to jointly evaluate the ongoing resource use and the needs of the Wai Wais and the impact of traditional land uses on biodiversity and ecosystems.
  • Working together to increase local, national and global awareness about the importance of biodiversity and ecosystems in the Konashen District.
  • Working to jointly develop sustainable land and resource use practices that satisfy the needs of the Wai Wai while also conserving ecosystems and biodiversity.
  • Working together to identify and address threats to the integrity of the Konashen District.
  • Working together to identify and develop income generating projects and potential sources of funding for the projects.

The MOC was signed by the Head of the Presidential Secretariat Dr. Roger Luncheon and Minister of Amerindian Affairs Hon. Carolyn Rodrigues (MP) for the Government of Guyana Major General (retd.) Joseph Singh for Conservation International (Guyana), and Paul Chekema and a representative of the Village Council for the Wai Wai Community.


Nikolai von Goihmann
Conservation International


Conservation International (CI) applies innovations in science, economics, policy and community participation to protect the Earth's richest regions of plant and animal diversity in the biodiversity hotspots, high-biodiversity wilderness areas and key marine ecosystems. With headquarters in Washington, D.C., CI works in more than 40 countries on four continents. For more information about CI, visit www.conservation.org.

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