$8.9M Chenapowu eco-tourism deal signed

Guyana Chronicle
May 11, 2001

WORLD Wildlife Fund (WWF), Guyana Forest and Environmental Conservation Project (GFECP) and Chenapowu Village Council signed an agreement Monday to spend $8.9M on developing a sustainable eco-tourism programme, from which that entire Amerindian community will benefit.

The investment is based on a proposal that was submitted by the local authority to WWF for the development of natural resources at Chenapowu and surrounding villages.

It entails the construction of a guest house and creating a tourist destination that would help protect the culture and biodiversity, Chenapowu Village Captain Anthony Melville said.

Chenapowu is located up-stream of Kaieteur Falls and selective members of the population will be trained as tour guides, operators and eco-tourism destination managers.

The sum of $1.3M will be spent over the next two months to acquire a boat and materials for constructing the guest accommodation, WWF Director Michelete Fontaine said.

He added that technical support would be made available in the area of training and management and to raise community awareness about the value of scheme.

Mr Fontaine said it is purely a community-based venture and has no connections with agencies such as National Parks Commission or other conservation development activities in the area.

Because of their location, the people of Chenapowu can serve as the natural protectors of the heritage site, he posited.

Mr Melville said:"The people of Chenapowu are seeking control over the natural resources which had been traditionally ours. In this way, we will be able to protect our traditional beliefs and activities".

He suggested that Chenapowu can become a model for other Amerindian communities and said the enterprise would ensure tourism operations there go hand in hand with the capacity to absorb development.

Melville emphasised that the goal is also to support the efforts of the Chenapowu people to preserve the biodiversity and important ecosystems in their traditional land.

WWF has supported conservation in the Guianas since the 1960s by providing funds for biological surveys and other undertakings.

In collaboration with GFECP, it seeks to promote partnerships for establishing a catalytic WWF presence throughout the region and mobilise conservation actions.

WWF is involved, as well, in the implementation of comprehensive plans and pilot schemes for the protection of key sites and wildlife populations.