Guyana Marine Turtle Conservation Society (GMTCS)
The Guyana Marine Turtle Conservation Society (GMTCS) works to ensure the future existence and population recovery of all the four species of marine turtles known to nest in Guyana, while at the same time addressing the needs of the user communities.
1. Monitoring Programme: The essence of this project is the empowerment of the resident Amerindian peoples to be the stewards of the resources upon which they ultimately depend. GMTCS actively employs persons from the Waramuri, Santa Rosa and Almond Beach communities, who would ordinarily have been turtle hunters or consumers, so that they can experience an alternative to killing the animals. This is a yearly programme that runs through the sea turtle nesting season from February to July.
2. Community Development, which seeks to identify economic alternatives for user communities as a means of achieving sustainable livelihoods. Recently GMTCS, in collaboration with various communities, has established the Moruca Embroidery and North West Organics brands, two economic alternative projects aimed at improving the social conditions of local user communities. The Moruca Embroidery Women’s Group consists of women from the Santa Rosa and Waramuri who produce pillowcases, bags, hats and tea towels embroidered with local flora and fauna. The women work closely with GMTCS to help ensure sea turtle conservation is achieved by engaging indigenous communities in alternative income projects to sea turtle harvesting.
3. Establishing Shell Beach as a National Protected Area: Recently, GMTCS has completed the delineation of the Shell Beach involving the 12 stakeholder communities, governmental agencies and NGOs to propose a boundary option to the Government of Guyana for the Shell Beach Protected Area (SBPA). A Community Representative Group (CRG) was also established during the delineation process to take this process forward and represent the communities’ interest. The delineation process was completed in 10 months with unanimous agreement on the one option put forward to the government. GMTCS has been identified as the Lead Agency for the management of this area and has outlined a project for Shell Beach.
4. Environmental Education and Awareness: GMTCS works with stakeholders at all levels to promote awareness of the need to protect the marine turtles and natural resource management of the area. GMTCS has trained numerous teachers from neighbouring communities in promoting conservation messages in the classroom through techniques such as schoolyard ecology and have worked with local fishermen to establish fisheries sub-committees. GMTCS runs a yearly environmental camp on Shell Beach where children from various schools are provided with a unique opportunity to explore and enjoy the beauty of the natural resources found at Shell Beach, while at the same time also teaching them the importance of conservation. The target audience of this camp are Primary and Secondary level students and adults from the traditional sea turtle user communities.
5. Research: GMTCS organizes and conducts research that will promote the protection and conservation of cultural, natural and archaeological resources within the Shell Beach area.