Doug and fellow ECN listers,
I was in Guyana for six weeks in 2012 conducting dung beetle surveys. I'm sure things have changed since that time, but I'll try to be as informative as possible. I worked with a group of four other researchers who trained undergraduates about field work and field techniques while also attempting to conduct research. I was last to join the group, so a permit was already started when I got on board and was added to it. I have attached a "Guidelines for Biodiversity Research" document outlining appropriate permitting procedures. The acquisition of the permit was not overly difficult, we arrived in Georgetown two days in advance of our collecting and had ample time to get signatures. You will need to stop in person to get signatures during weekdays at 1) the EPA, which issues the permits, and 2) this is depending upon your collecting locations, the Office of Amerindian Affairs. The latter took multiple visits before we were granted signatures and it is useful to be aware of what districts you plan/hope to collect. I have attached the Amerindian Affairs Village signature sheet, this may have changed, but should give you an idea of what to expect. Everyone physically collecting must fill this out, it isn't a blanket document for the group. The EPA permit has fees and I have also attached the sheet that we received. Again prices may have increased since that time.
If I may, I'd like to recommend a few people to contact or be familiar with before you get your trip underway. Raquel Thomas is the Director of Resource Management and Training at the Iwokrama International Centre for Rainforest Conservation and Development. She is an excellent contact if you are using the Iwokrama River Lodge, a great location with multiple satellite camps that afford excellent collecting. Another individual that you will likely encounter is Hemchandranauth Sambhu, he goes by Sambhu, will check your specimens and provide signatures for export. He's a faculty member at the University of Guyana, which is where you will take your specimens for inspection, again during weekdays, no such luck on weekends. A little advice, it pays to have an Excel sheet (electronic and printed) of all of your collected materials for them that they can inspect and will check against. Another bit of advice, they despised (in 2012, now hopefully things have changed) bulk samples, I got unbelievable amounts of grief from them because we ran litter samples and unsorted pitfall samples. I think that they were under the impression that it was a way to not declare specimens and sneak them out of country. But you and I both know there is just no way to sort through that material while in the field, let alone catalog everything. On the note of cataloging, they will settle for identification to family, but I just did the best I could when submitting data for them to check against. Hopefully they have come to realize the value and necessity of bulk samples since my visit in 2012. I think that you'll find Sambhu extremely helpful and friendly.
Lastly time for a quick horror story from the trip. The day after our arrival in Guyana the local electric companies hiked utility prices through the roof, which culminated in civil unrest, multiple shootings of civilians, burning of local bridges, etc., etc. Well we were in the field and out of communication when this was going on, so when it was time for our departure we were told that we would not be returning by bus-as we had arrived, but would rather be returning to Georgetown by plane. The day we were set to depart they mowed an airstrip, out of a seemingly open field. The planes were tiny with an eight passenger limit and a max weight limit, so needless to say some gear and samples were left behind. One of those being a 60 lb. bag of dung beetles sealed in whirl paks, which I had been collecting during the trip. The bags we were forced to leave behind didn't make it to us before we returned to the U.S. Long story short, I did get that bag of samples 9 months later, when a researcher returned to Guyana. The bag had sat in an un-airconditioned room for that entire time and were salvageable, but people in my department still remind me of the awful stench from when I brought samples back from Guyana...
Apologies for the length of this email. Lastly if you need to get batteries for backlighting, etc. and can't bring them with you there are numerous places to get them there. Also ethanol is available from the local rum distillery in Georgetown, you may need to provide jugs for travel though, we used fuel tanks. I was able to extract DNA from material collected into ethanol from the distillery, so it should be acceptable for anything you may need. Please let me know if you have any more questions or would like recommendations for collecting locations.
University of Mississippi