Issues of species distribution modeling, sovereign State boundaries and Indigenous Peoples' rights as they relate to conservation efforts in Guyana, South America

Date of Completion

January 2011


Biology, Ecology|Biology, Conservation|Political Science, General




The conservation of biological diversity has tended to focus on protecting flora and fauna, however, underlying issues that may complicate conservation efforts need to be considered. The interrelatedness of biodiversity conservation, State boundary conflicts, and Indigenous Peoples' rights are evaluated in this dissertation for the Co-operative Republic of Guyana. Chapter 1 provides background information on the Guiana Shield and for the chapters of the dissertation. Chapter 2 assesses the regional distribution of seven taxon-groups: invertebrates, amphibians, reptiles, birds, mammals, ferns and non-seed plants, and seed plants using herbarium and museum specimen data. Proposed conservation sites were compared with indigenous (Amerindian) and non-indigenous settlements, lands under administration of Guyana's milling and forestry authorities, and the potential sprawl of human activity associated with non-indigenous settlements. Human features on the landscape suggest significant conflict between proposed conservation areas and lands titled and/or demarcated to Amerindians and lands under administration of mining and forestry officials. In light of these conflicts, I propose conservation areas that take into account some of these conflicts and may also be incorporated into transboundary conservation initiatives. Chapter 3 evaluates the boundary conflicts between Venezuela/Guyana and Guyana/Suriname with an aim to facilitating a proposed transboundary conservation initiative, which I term the Guiana Shield Ecoregion Reserve (GSER). The public goods concept is applied to ecology wherein providing goods at the global level, and related national and local levels, is paid for by international organizations in exchange for sustainable protection of ecosystems. Chapter 4 discusses Amerindian rights, examining (i) the 1965 British Guiana Independence Conference, (ii) the United Nations Decolonization Committee Declaration, (iii) the United Nations Charter, and (iv) the Constitution of the Co-operative Republic of Guyana, and their implied conditionalities on Guyana's independence. Modification of Guyana legislation associated with lands, fundamental rights, and culture of Amerindians are proposed. Urgently addressing Amerindian rights relative to Guyana's green development initiative, the Low Carbon Development Strategy, is also discussed. Chapter 5 concludes by proposing future research directions for each chapter. ^