Amerindians query delay on protected areas project

Stabroek News
February , 2000

The Amerindian Peoples Association (APA) is expressing concern about the continued absence of a National Protected Areas Project.

A recent commmunique from the APA states that the project has been in the pipeline for five years but "no serious steps have been taken to address the conflicts between the government's position and the constraints under which the donors operate. A key issue has been the government's failure to understand that donors cannot support a protected areas system which violates the rights of indigenous peoples.

"The APA maintains its position that Amerindian legal and traditional (or customary) rights must not be infringed or violated. This is fully consistent with donor agencies such as the World Bank who are not allowed to support projects that impact negatively on indigenous rights."

The release notes the need to amend the Kaieteur National Park Act to save existing Amerindian rights and says that it has reminded "President Jagdeo that the amendment must go through before the National Protected Areas System (NPAS) project can proceed."

The APA "expresses disappointment at the role played by Navin Chanderpal as adviser to the President in the extension of the Kaieteur National Park and his poor handling of Amerindian issues in the NPAS project.

The Amerindian body also states "its willingness to work with Clayton Hall who has recently been retained by the UNDP to try to move the process forward."