Originally published on EdenKeeper.org
Taking action to conserve nearly half of Suriname, native tribes have joined in the efforts to protect the Amazon Biome. Declaring an indigenous conservation corridor spanning 72,000 square kilometers (27,799 square miles) of southern Suriname, the Trio and Wayana Communities of Suriname presented a declaration of cooperation to the National Assembly of Suriname.
Captain Shedde of the Trio village of Alalapadu said, “As people we need earth’s resources to live, the forest provides this.” Captain Shedde continued, “If we think and care about our future generations now is the time to act and work together to preserve our nature.”
Suriname’s Indigenous Conservation Corridor
In spite of the region’s remote location, the aboriginal people of the Trio and Wayana report that logging and mining activities are now impacting their forests. Taking the initiative to become stewards of their pristine rainforest home, the two tribal communities of Suriname have adopted a strong stance for conservation.
Essential to Suriname’s climate resilience, the newly declared indigenous conservation corridor includes some of the most remote and pristine rainforests on Earth. Led by the aboriginal communities and supported by Conservation International (CI) and WWF Guianas, the declaration also promotes green development strategies, and protects freshwater security, as well as the region’s rich biodiversity.
A Rapid Assessment Program (RAP) expedition by CI in 2012 assessed the beautiful and remote region’s biodiversity, identifying 60 new species. In total, the RAP team documented 1,378 species in the region, including amphibians, ants, beetles, birds, fishes, katydids, mammals, and plants. Including just under half of the nation’s rainforest, this region generates over 60% of Suriname’s water every year. Additionally, it absorbs over 8 million tons of carbon annually, and contains approximately 11 Gigatons of carbon stores in total.
Protecting the Future of Suriname
Protecting this region will help the people of south Suriname to survive the climate changes of global warming. Ensuring the security of clean water resources will promote the continued growth of additional benefits such as drinking water supplies, agricultural and tourism needs, and renewable energy generation.
WWF Guianas Country Manager Laurens Gomes stated, “We are very excited about the progress that has been made during Suriname’s first ever extensive multi-stakeholder dialogue on the protection of South Suriname.” Gomes continued, “This dialogue has unlocked multiple perspectives on how important this area is for Suriname and the world. The signed declaration provides a foundation for continued collaboration and partnership.”
“Guarded by the Indigenous People of the Forest”
Located in the most intact portion of the Amazon Biome and Guiana Shield, Suriname occupies one of Earth’s lowest ecological footprints per capita. Often describes as the greenest nation on the planet, Suriname is part of the world’s largest plot of continuous tropical forest. This tract of land is considered essential for maintaining the entire balance of life on Earth, linking the largest network of Protected Areas in the tropics, including French Guiana’s Parc Amazonien and Brazil’s Tumucumaque.
Together with the pristine rainforest and its incredible biodiversity, the native tribes of Suriname are strong stewards of their cultural heritage, as well. John Goedschalk, Director of CI’s Suriname office explained, “The indigenous people believe they borrow the lands from their grandchildren and we as a country, ought to be doing the same.” He added, “The country of Suriname has a serious focus on trying to preserve important parts of our forests and protect headwaters. A conservation corridor, guarded by the indigenous people of the forest, is a truly Surinamese solution that is in the interest of all our peoples.”