See full letter below by Leader of the Opposition, Joseph Harmon:
I write on behalf of the A Partnership for National Unity and the Alliance for Change (APNU/AFC) Coalition. The Coalition wishes to bring to your attention a disturbing pattern of disregard for the principles of environmental protection and sustainable development by the current People’s Progressive Party/ Civic Administration. Recently, the destruction of approximately 48 acres of mangrove at Versailles-Malgre Tout, West Bank Demerara, Guyana by a company, Tri-Star Incorporated, which has been given approval by the Government of Guyana to establish a shore-base facility, has caused serious alarm, for Guyanese as a whole and in particular, the residents of the aforementioned areas, which are prone to severe flooding during high tides.
It is apposite to note that mangroves under the Laws of Guyana are a protected species as they perform important functions with respect to flooding and the marine ecosystem particularly in the context of the threats and the increased risks to Guyana’s low-lying coastline posed by predicted rises in sea levels.
It appears that no Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) was conducted by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and that the requisite permits from the regulatory agencies such as the Guyana Forestry Commission were not obtained.
The APNU/AFC wishes to make it clear that it supports development, but we are strongly of the view that development must be done sustainably. It is to be recalled that in 2019 the UN Environment supported the Government of Guyana to develop the Green State Development Strategy: Vision 2040, where one of the priorities was increasing resilience of Guyanese citizens by improving coastal defence through mangrove restoration. It is to be recalled as well, that considerable support was offered by the European Union for a mangrove restoration project which was carried out by the National Agricultural Research Extension Institute (NAREI), a part of Guyana’s Ministry of Agriculture.
The APNU/AFC is therefore concerned that the callous and cavalier attitude of the PPP/C administration towards the environment will reverse significant gains made to date. We are also deeply worried by the statement of Juan Edghill, Minister of Public Works that the removal of mangroves is necessary for development. We believe that this is an indication that this Administration will continue to pursue the destruction of mangroves in the name of development.
The APNU/AFC therefore repeats its call for all organisations concerned with the protection and preservation of the environment to add their voices to the calls for the protection and preservation of our mangroves. The PPP/C Administration must be required to respect the environment as well as enforce the regulatory framework for its protection, without fear or favour.