Open Standards Training in Guyana

Story by Rob Sutter, Conservation Ecologist, Enduring Conservation Outcomes and NaturePlan

Guianan Cock-of-the-Rock, a rare bird species in Iwokrama National Park, Guyana. Photo by Rob Sutter

Guyana is relatively unknown to tourists and biologists, but this country in northeast South America is a global center of biodiversity with one of the four best remaining rainforests on earth. The Guyanese government has shown leadership in protecting biodiversity and indigenous rights. And now, the country is using the Open Standards to plan for protected areas and develop strategic plans.

In February 2018, Dr. Anouska Kinahan of the Protected Areas Commission invited me to lead two workshops in Guyana to develop a team of people who can implement the Open Standards for both project level planning (expansion of protected areas, conservation plans, management plans) and higher level, programmatic strategic planning.

The first workshop was a two-day introduction to the Open Standards for selected Protected Areas Commission staff. During this workshop, we demonstrated that the Open Standards can work for both urban and hinterland parks. The following week, I led a modified coaches training for three staff members. In these sessions, we went deeper into each of the steps, focusing on topics especially relevant to Protected Area Commissions planning and the application of the Open Standards for organizational strategic planning. Welcome to our new coaches, Anouska, Sarah Henry, and Steven Husbands! At the end of the training, the new coaches led a short workshop to start developing the framework for a management plan for the National Botanical Garden in Guyana’s capital city. Participants agreed that the Open Standards will provide the Protected Areas Commission with a consistent planning process that works at multiple scales and across protected areas, the ability to select the best use of resources and most significant strategic actions, and a clear path to success.

These workshops were funded by a German Development Bank grant obtained by Sarah Henry from the Protected Areas Commission to support planning for the expansion of protected areas in the country. The grant included funding dedicated to training in the Open Standards.

Happy Graduates of the Protected Areas Commission that took the introduction of Open Standards workshop in February 2018. Photo by Anouska Kinahan.