© CI/Photo by John Martin
A protected area is a location which is important for its landscape, beauty or biological diversity or “biodiversity” and which has been protected by national law.
There are several kinds of protected areas. Each type involves different management, goals and strategies for resource conservation. Some, such as Nature Reserves, are created strictly for the protection of wildlife and for the maintenance of undisturbed ecosystems. Others, such as national Parks, are created for the protection of areas with important national resources, where educational visits and tourism may occur.
Other areas, such as Indigenous Reserves, exist specifically for the protection of cultural and biological resources and are usually managed by a native ethnic group. Biosphere Reserves are internationally recognized protected areas which combine all of these management objectives in different zones of the reserve.
Most countries have several of each kind of area within a national system of protected areas. Some of these areas may be designated as World Heritage Sites for being particularly valuable and worthy of protection because of their cultural and biological significance.
Benefits of Protected Areas
The establishment of a system of Protected Areas often provides the following benefits:
Biodiversity Conservation: maintain the balance and health of ecosystems for future generations, and preserve the variety of species that exist in a specific region.
Preserving Cultural Heritage: maintain traditional ways of life and knowledge, and protects important historic, cultural, archaeological religions or scenic sites.
Watershed Protection: ensures clean water for use by communities and for the irrigation of agricultural lands. The maintenance of forest cover also assist in preventing erosion, siltation of rivers and the resulting death in aquatic life.
Economic benefits: provide opportunities for economic development and revenue by finding unique ways to tie monetary benefit to protected areas through activities and mechanisms such as ecotourism, non-timber forest products and financial mechanisms such as “carbon offsets.”
Protected Areas and Guyana
At present Guyana has only three legally protected areas.