Conserving Rainforest while Sustaining Local Economies

Guyana’s Minister of Agriculture Will Describe World’s First National Low-Carbon Development Strategy at Town & Gown Cultural Series Event on February 8

Robert M. Persaud, minister of agriculture for the South American country of Guyana, will speak on a new approach to rainforest conservation at the next Town & Gown Cultural Series

event. Guyana is working to establish the world’s first national low-carbon development strategy that responds to a developing country’s economic needs as well as global climate change concerns. Introductory remarks will be made by D. James Baker, director of the Global Carbon Measurement Program for the William J. Clinton Foundation and former administrator of the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The free event will take place at 5:30 p.m. on Monday, February 8, 2010, at the ESRI Conference Center, 380 New York Street, in Redlands.

Relatively undeveloped, Guyana retains up to 80 percent (162,000 square kilometers) of its original forest cover. That rainforest is part of the Guiana Shield, an area that includes all of Guyana, Suriname, and French Guiana and parts of southern Venezuela and northern Brazil. These combined forests are the source of 20 percent of the world’s freshwater and represent 18 percent of all the carbon dioxide stored in the world’s tropical forests. Guyana’s new “avoided deforestation” strategy is to evaluate its standing rainforests as assets that can qualify for carbon financing and programs that provide new economic opportunities.

In addition to his current post, Persaud is also Guyana’s coordinator of information communications technology strategy. He has previously held positions as information liaison to the president of Guyana, head of the Government Information Agency, director of the Guyana Broadcasting Corporation, and chairman of the National Communications Network. Persaud holds a master of business administration (MBA) from the University of the West Indies as well as a diploma in news agency journalism from the Indian Institute of Mass Communications.

The next Cultural Series speaker will be James Fallows—national correspondent for The Atlantic, commentator on American politics and culture, and Redlands native—on Sunday, February 21, 2010, at 3:00 p.m. The series is sponsored by ESRI and the University of Redlands and is intended to share these institutions’ educational and cultural resources with the surrounding community.

Attendees should guarantee seating by preregistering for the event on the Internet at or by calling 909-748-8011.

[Source: ESRI press release]