Tag: Environment (page 2 of 2)

For Forests Sake

Back in 2003 I spent a good while in Guyana. Guyana doesn’t really make headlines. Gold and AIDS tends to be what puts Guyana on a map and in the news. Once famous for allegedly being the mystic place of El Dorado (because of its abundance of gold) and its exceptionally high HIV/AIDS rate (second highest in Latin America) you don’t really hear much else.

I loved Guyana. Sometimes my stories tend to trail off and I start to say “This one time in Guyana ..”. Like this one time, I was teaching four women at the Neighbourhood Democratic council office in Bartica how to use a computer with no internet connection, using an unreliable generator as a power source. I had to teach them how to turn it on, type and how to use windows 2003. Then just last year I received an email from them saying they had learned how to print and how to use the internet but had a few computer and non-computer related questions for me, like if I could help them install a webcam and whether of not I had a boyfriend. They had emailed the organisation I worked for asking for my email address.

Another Guyana memory, which actually brings me to the point of this post is walking in the rainforest and being told that if I turned twice in a row, I’d be lost and likely eaten by some sort of animal.

Three quarters of Guyana is covered by forest, which pretty massive. 76.6% in fact is the percentage of Guyana’s land covered by forest. Dense, hard to navigate forest.

So, you can imagine my delight when I read this week about Guyana in the paper.

Guyana has recently signed a historic deal with Norway to protect its forests. The deal means that Norway’s Government will pay Guyana’s Government around $250 million spread over several years, to preserve their forests. The money will go towards low carbon development projects, such as the installation and maintenance of solar panels to help bring power to isolated communities.

Why is this such an epic deal? Because rather than Guyana, a pretty poor country sell its natural resources to logging companies or convert its land area into livestock rearing ranches, it has chosen to preserve what’s there through support from a Norway, a well off country. Well done on all accounts. It shows grand innovation in sustainable economic development and fantastic leadership from both countries. It would be a very good thing if more deals like this are made.


This week saw the launch of the UK’s first conservation credit scheme. Conservation credits work very similar to carbon offsetting. If an area of land or water is to be developed, the developers can offset their impact by buying credits in biodiversity. Areas of biodiversity will then get developed in designated locations. Biobanking is becoming a really big emerging market.

While the idea of need to compensate for environmental damage seems like a good idea, you can’t manufacture biodiversity. Letting builders or developers essentially pay for environmental degradation, is not doing anything for conservation, if anything it’s just showing that everything has a price tag.

By issuing conservation credits, it inherently implies that a price can be put on biodiversity- but how can you measure and value this? And can it work retroactively? What about damage that’s already been done?

Like carbon offsetting, you are paying to alleviate guilt, pressure, bi-laws. But you cant really put a price on biodiversity. You can’t pay £500,000 to create a panda reserve because something that you want to build just might happen to obliterate a wild turkey population.