Guiana Shield Initiative: Guyana, Suriname, Brazil, Colombia


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The information in this Toolkit article has been derived from research conducted at 
the Iwokrama Centre for Rainforest Conservation and Development 
map of countries within Guiana Shield (click to enlarge)



With climate change an international concern, the conservation of the Guiana Shield is of great importance. Covering 2.5 million km2, the Guiana Shield encompasses the region within the red borders on the image to the right (Venezuela, Guyana, Suriname, French Guyana, Brazil, Colombia. The Guiana Shield contains 15% of the world's fresh water reserves and an incredible diversity of plant and animal species many of which are unique to the region )[1].

What is the Guiana Shield Initiative (GSI)?

The Guiana Shield Initiative aims to provide mechanisms for countries to combat threats to natural resources in the form of large-scale agriculture, plantations, forestry and mining industries. Phase I of the Initiative was geared around monitoring and evaluating the ecosystem goods and services within the Guiana Shield to assess areas that encompass the greatest potential for conservation and sustainable development. The GSI recognizes the value of ecosystem goods and services for countries residing in the Guiana Shield and how they can benefit individuals at local, national and international levels.

Ecosystem goods and services in the region

Ecosystem goods and services are amenities provided naturally by the environment from which we benefit directly and indirectly. Ecosystem goods and services in the Guiana Shield include water, air the cycling of nutrients, diverse flora and fauna, and pollination.

Phase II Project: Ecological and Financial Management of the Guiana Shield Eco-Region

Phase II of the GSI was launched in 2007. This phase hopes to enable countries that encompass the Guiana Shield to directly benefit from their ecosystem services )[2]. The second phase encourages local inhabitants to make an active contribution to resource conservation in their region. The three initial pilot regions established were Iwokrama in Guyana, Iratapuru in Brazil, and Matavein in Colombia.

Phase II Pilot Projects

Iwokrama, Guyana

At Iwokrama, Phase II focuses on supporting the activities at the centre from sustainable harvesting, processing and marketing of Non-timber Forest Products, eco-tourism, and the monitoring of wildlife resources in the region. Iwokrama serves as an excellent site for the project since it applies multiple sustainable and commercial forest uses.

Ecosystem Services in the Iwokrama Forest

  • Freshwater
  • Carbon Sequestration

For more information on GSI's work at Iwokrama, click here

Iratapuru, Brazil

Created in 1997, the Iratapuru Sustainable Development Reserve is located in the state of Amapa, an area of rich plant and animal diversity. To preserve the flora and fauna whilst helping the residing inhabitants, Iratapuru hopes to combine conservation with economic and social development.

For more information on GSI's work at Iratapuru, click here.

Mataven, Colombia

The biologically diverse Mataven reserve covers 1.8 million hectares of forest with five different ecosystems. The residing indigenous communities govern and manage the reserve and assist with cultural and environmental preservation of the area. The area is currently under threat to outside pressures like oil extraction and over fishing.

For more information on GSI's work at Mataven, click here.

See more


  1. The Guiana Shield Initiative Website" <>Accessed 6 June, 2011.
  2. Guiana Shield Initiative. "II International Congress of Biodiversity of the Guiana Shield." Meeting on Biodiversity in the Guianas, August 1-4, 2010. Brazil

External links