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Wikipedia Commons. Venezuela's socialist President Nicolas Maduro has previously criticized Guyana's decision to allow oil exploration in the waters off the shore of the Essequibo region, a sparsely populated and dense jungle area equivalent to around two-thirds of Guyanese territory that Venezuela also claims. Guyana says Caracas agreed to relinquish the area after a ruling by an international tribunal in , but Venezuela later backtracked on that decision.

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The U. The dispute has heated up in recent years as Exxon has announced the discovery of more than 5 billion barrels of oil off the shore of Guyana, an English-speaking nation of , with no history of oil production. In a statement, U.

Economic Incentives Vital for Development of the Guiana Shield

State Department deputy spokesman Robert Palladino faulted Venezuela for the latest incident. Washington is a critic of Maduro's government, which it accuses of corruption and human rights violations. On Friday, Guyana's parliament toppled the government in a no-confidence vote, paving the way for elections in three months. Get the latest Oil WTI price here.

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With an estimated area of 2. The Shield has two markedly different economic sub-regions, one with value-added production and relatively high population density, and the other with abundant natural resources and a low population density. The more active economic section is located in eastern Venezuela, and includes a successful petroleum industry as well as steel, aluminum and other manufacturing plants.

Nevertheless, the lesser developed area has immense developmental potential with its mineral, hydrocarbon, forest, and fishing resources, as well as immense hydroelectric capability and very large areas of under-exploited arable land. The territory also includes the Amazon ecosystems, vast savannahs, numerous rivers, waterfalls, mountains, and extensive Atlantic and Caribbean coasts. These natural riches demonstrate a huge potential for tourism.

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The integration of roads and transportation infrastructure will no doubt boost development at various geographical nodal points within the Guyana Shield hub. Already, with better road and river links between Manaos and other Brazilian population centers, that city has boosted its production of processed food, electronic goods, motorbikes and automobiles.

A free zone has been established and the city now has a population of more than a million with several universities and research centers. Its growth, undoubtedly, has helped to generate economic development in the hinterland state of Roraima. Clearly, the Guyana government hopes that a similar pattern in the future can develop in the Rupununi region bordering Brazil as permanent road links are established with Brazil via the bridge across the Takutu River and, ultimately, the completion of the interior highway from Lethem to Linden and Georgetown.

But a start has already been made, and incremental implementation is expected to follow. Ultimately, the political commitment of the respective governments will determine how successful it will be.

Venezuela : Towards the Guiana Highlands | Une Saison en Guyane

Currently, the countries of the Guiana Shield are pursuing policies that emphasize the importance of establishing biodiversity corridors to avoid landscape fragmentation and loss of species and habitats for biodiversity. At the same time, these policies are aimed at protecting the rights of the indigenous Amerindians to their territories and of access to their natural resources, in order to preserve their livelihoods and cultures.

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Until the end of the twentieth century, the Guiana Shield forests were under little threat in comparison with other tropical forests. However, demographic and economic growth has resulted in increased pressure on natural ecosystems. The sustainable development of the area encompassing the Guiana Shield should be a priority for the countries of that geographical region. The area provides essential environmental services to all of humanity and, as such, economic incentives are vital to ensure that the forests remain in a pristine state.