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ExxonMobil funds aerial monitoring system for Iwokrama rainforest

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The Iwokrama International Centre announced Monday that with funding from ExxonMobil Guyana it is now able to remotely monitor the Iwokrama forest using drone technology.

The drone, which has communication capability, will help to significantly monitor areas of the forest in which illegal activities are prevalent, supporting the work of enforcement teams which will be supplemented by the Guyana Police Force and the Corps of Wardens from the Ministry of Natural Resources.

Officials from ExxonMobil Guyana and the Iwokrama International Centre during a visit to the rainforest facility.

Iwokrama said over the last several months, there has been an increase in illegal activities brought on by high gold prices and the pandemic restrictions.

According to Chief Executive Officer, Dane Gobin these illegal activities are a threat to the international certification which the Iwokrama Forest has maintained since 2008. “The Centre recorded increased numbers of illegals plying the Georgetown – Lethem roadway and the rivers bordering the Iwokrama Forest,” he revealed.

Mr. Gobin warned that the Centre has adopted a zero-tolerance policy for illegal activities within the Iwokrama Forest and has provided education and awareness exercises. He reminded that the Iwokrama Act provides specific penalties including fines and imprisonment for violations.

Meanwhile, the CEO acknowledged the partnership between ExxonMobil Guyana and Iwokrama has provided much support for conservation and science activities as well as the work Iwokrama does within communities.

ExxonMobil has been a major supporter of the Iwokrama Science Programme, providing more than GY$180 million since 2017. The additional funding of GY$50 million for 2020 will be used to enhance the Centre’s monitoring activities, to explore innovative ways to look at forest management and to introduce a “sponsor-an-acre” programme – a first for Guyana.

The Centre also plans outreach activities, capacity building and awareness programmes for the local communities; the production of Guyana’s “legal field guide for natural resource practitioners” and the development of the country’s  first three-dimensional community map of Fair View village.

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