IT STARTED with a big hype but is now veering towards a rather unfortunate collapse. A us $65-million experiment, which had the backing of the Commonwealth leaders, to save tropical rainforests in Guyana, is now coming apart as funds to sustain the programme have been difficult to come by. The project began in 1989, after Desmond Hoyte, president of Guyana, offered 360,000 ha of virgin forest - the lwokrama forest - to develop and arrive at conservation steps to save rainforests from extinction.
The programme was started with a fund of US $5 million and the field centre came up at Kurupukari in Guyana. it would have helped botanists scout for medicinal plants, given an insight to the foresters to harvest trees in a sustainble manner and also aided the development of ecologically sound means of mining gold and diamond reserves. Scientists manning the project recently quit the scene. But Conrad Gorinsky, co-author of the Common- wealth plan, believes that if the project fails, the loggers will get their way in Guyana. They are already cutting down huge areas of the forest.