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CARICOM Youth Ambassadors Examine Biodiversity, Healthy Lifestyle Project In Central Guyana

(CARICOM Secretariat, Turkeyen, Greater Georgetown, Guyana) A group of Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Youth Ambassadors (CYA)are presently in Guyana working with their peers from across the Region to develop strategies to fight against HIV/AIDS. This they are doing while at the same time observing Guyana’s biodiversity, by journeying to the central part of the country for a three-day visit to the one million acreage Iwokrama Rainforest Conservation and Development reserve.

In presenting an overview of the Iwokrama project to the CYAs, Professional Development Fellow in Forest Management and Conservation at Iwokrama, Mr. Damian Fernandes told the group that the Iwokrama reserve, found in the Guiana Shield, was among the only three untapped rainforests in the world. He noted the world’s remaining virgin forests were facing increased international pressures to remain intact, as well as national appeals for exploitation to reap economic benefits from timber harvesting.

Mr. Fernandes noted that in grappling with these issues, Iwokrama was constantly conducting staff and community training, ahead of its future plan to carry out “selective logging” in the area, as a means of securing a sustainable social, cultural and economic future for Iwokrama and its environs. The Iwokrama official said that the conservation and development project was also addressing other social and health issues such as malaria, prostitution, and HIV/AIDS, which posed potentially adverse effects on communities in the Iwokrama region.

He added that given the upsurge in transit and other social activities likely to occur as a result of the logging project, the conservation and development team was supporting the youths of the area to develop and convey a healthy lifestyle model for residents there. Against this backdrop, four youth interns from the Bina Hill Youth Group, who represented the various communities within the Iwokrama region, joined the CYAs to share their experiences and work with youths and other residents of their communities.

A break-out session to propose strategies for combating the spread of HIV/AIDS in small communities will be the main highlight at the close of day two of the CYAs visit to Iwokrama, where skits on social issues and HIV/AIDS are also expected to be staged. The team departs Iwokrama on Thursday 8th December.

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