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NATURAL HERITAGE

IN SURINAME

 

 

 

NATURAL HERITAGE IN SURINAME

by Ferdinand L.J. Baal,

Head Nature Conservation Division of the Forest Service of Suriname

Paramaribo, 19 February 2000 (Updated 4 March 2005)

 

1 Introduction

 

Some 90% of the land surface (of about 164.600 km2) is still covered with forest. Protected areas (11 nature reserves, 1 nature park and 4 Multiple‑use Management Areas) cover about 13% of the land surface (without sea areas), which percentage will increase to 13.8% after establishment of 2 proposed nature reserves and 2 proposed forest reserves.

(Note: These percentages do not include the planned areas of Protection Forests and Specially Protected Forests, which may cover some 10 %.)

One of the existing protected areas is the large Central Suriname Nature Reserve, which covers 1.6 million ha (10% of land surface of Suriname) and encloses the pre-existing Raleighvallen, Tafelberg and Eilerts de Haan nature reserves.

Suriname has a high biological diversity with e.g. 185 mammal species, 668 bird species, 152 reptile species, 95 amphibian species, 338 fresh water fish species, 452 marine fish species, 1,750 invertebrata and 5,075 Spermatophyta (plant) species

(M. Werkhoven and F. Baal, 1995).

 

In 1948, the Nature Protection Commission ('Natuurbeschemingscommissie") was established by Government Resolution as an advisory commission in order to study conservation problems, and to propose legislation concerning nature conservation. The resulting Game Law (Government Bulletin 1954 No. 25) and Nature Preservation Law (Government Bulletin 1954 No. 26) were published in 1954, and are enforced by the Forest Service (Nature Conservation Division), which is assisted by the Foundation for Nature Preservation in Suriname (STINASU).

(Note that on 15 April 2003 a Letter of Intent was signed by the Chair & the Director of STINASU and the Acting Head of the Suriname Forest Service & the Head Nature Conservation Division. On base of this Letter of Intent NCD is responsible for law enforcement, education/awareness and international wildlife trade, while STINASU is implementing nature tourism and nature research. This Letter of Intent will be valid until 31 October 2005 or earlier when NCD will be merged with the Foundation for Forest Management and Production Control (SBB) and will form the Forest and Nature Management Authority of Suriname (BOSNAS). BOSNAS will become the responsible organization for forestry and nature conservation in Suriname.

 

2. Ecosystems (M. Werkhoven and F. Baal, 1995).

 

Geomorphologically, Suriname is divided into a mountainous region and a coastal region. The mountainous region, more than 80% of the country, consists almost entirely of Precambrian rock formation which is part of the Guayana Shield. The only, and easternmost Roraima sandstone formation in Suriname is the tabletop mountain (tepui) "Tafelberg" in the central part of the country. The natural vegetation in the interior consists mainly of undisturbed tropical rainforest (mesophytic forest), and on the slopes of the mountains of so‑called cloud forest. Savannas and xerophytic forests, relict vegetations from the Pleistocene, can also be found in the interior.

 

Along the northern edge of the Guayana Shield, across the full width of the country, run the Zanderij formation, Old Coastal Plain, and Young Coastal Plain, being about 180 km wide in the west, and a mere 20 km in the east.

 

The most southern part is the Zanderij formation or Savanna Belt which lies on quartz‑rich sand sediments. The climax vegetation of the well‑drained Zanderij formation is formed by mesophytic forest. On the bleached soils there is also high or low xerophytic (savanna)forest. Savannas (with a total land surface of ca. 7%) are found on unbleached soils, on well‑drained white sands, and on wet white sands. In the Savanna Belt, in the valleys formed by creeks, marsh forest or swamp forest occurs.

 

Farther north lies the landscape of the Old Coastal Plain. This area consists for the greater part of marine sediments that were deposited during interglacial periods. Here lies the old offshore‑bar landscape with elevated clay flats. On the old ridges one may encounter mesophytic forest, xerophytic forest, or savannas. On the terraces of the clay flats, one may find mesophytic forest or savannas, on wet clay. In the gullies swamp forests occur.

 

The Young Coastal Plain consists of marine sediments from the Holocene. This Young Coastal Plain reaches to the coastline and is at its widest  in western Suriname near the  Corantijn River, some 75 km from the coast. The landscape is characterized by sand and shell ridges, and with swamps on heavy clay. Along the coast there are estuarine riverbanks, often overgrown with mangrove forest.

 

A comprehensive inventory and subsequent mapping of the ecosystems (vegetation‑soil associations and faunal data) in the Suriname lowlands resulted in “Reconnaissance Map Surinam Lowland Ecosystems (Coastal Region and Savanna Belt), scale 1: 200,000 (Teunissen, 1978).

 

3. Wildlife Management

 

The Game Law of 1954 (Government Bulletin 1954 no. 25)distinguishes the following wildlife categories: game species, cage species, predominantly harmful species and protected species. The wild animal species (especially reptiles, amphibians and invertebrates) which do not fall under these categories are not protected by the Game Law. However, CITES species may fall under any of the categories of the Game Law, and may even include unprotected species. CITES is applied in Suriname following article 15 paragraph 2 of the Game Law for animal species and following art.49 paragraph 4 of the Law of Forest Management (Government Bulletin 1992 no. 80) for plant species.

 

In order to regulate the export of wildlife an export quota system for exporters, non‑residents and residents has been established by the Government of Suriname. The export of wildlife is only permitted for the species mentioned on the quota-list and for the respective quota, which are established annually. The minimal Free‑On‑Board values for each species are also established each year. The permit fee is 2% of these F.O.B. values.

The Game Resolution of 1970 is replaced by a new Game Resolution per 1 Januari 2003. The Resolusion sets  bag-limits for game species and cage species and extend the coverage of the Game Law over the entire land surface and the 200 miles maritime zone (the territorial sea and the economic zone). In the southern zone (in the far interior where people have to rely on subsistence hunting) hunting on game species and cage species is open the whole year and there is no bag-limit for these species.

 

4. Policy and legislation on protected areas

 

The policy on protected areas aims at the conservation and management of the natural resources and the sustainable use of these resources.

National laws for the protection of natural areas are the following:

 

  • The Nature Preservation Law ('Natuurbeschermingswet 1954";Government Bulletin 1954 no.26): it forms the basis for the establishment of nature reserves; this is the most important law on protected areas.

 

In the Preamble and article 1 of the Nature Preservation Law it is stated that the conservation of natural richness is needed for science, recreation. and education, and due to ethical, esthetical and economical considerations. The economical considerations are for instance nature tourism and maintenance of genetic resources (wild "strains” of related industrial crops, vegetables, fruits, plants used in the manufacture of pharmaceuticals etc.).

 

Article 2 of the Nature Preservation Law, when (unofficially) translated into English, reads as follows: "To be designated as a nature reserve, the area has to satisfy the following requirements: that it deserves protection by the Government because of its varied nature and scenic beauty; and/or because of the presence of -‑from a scientifically or culturally significant point of view ‑- important flora, fauna, or geological objects.".

 

  • The Law on Forest Management("Wet Bosbeheer", SB 1992 no. 80): it replaces the Timber Law of 1947. The management of this Law is mandated to the parastatal Foundation for Forest Management and Production Control (SBB). This new law have several categories of forests; some can be considered as protected areas:

1.      Protection Forest ("Schermbos").

2.      Specially Protected Forest ("Speciaal beschermd bos").

 The holders of exploration permits or concessions are required to respect the traditional rights of the tribal communities ( “ gewoonterechten van de in stamverband levende en wonende boslandbewoners “ ) in their villages, settlements, and on their shifting cultivation grounds that are located within the boundaries of their terrains . On basis of the Timber Law, the President had issued cutting permits for timber exploitation (so‑called “houtkap‑vergunningen”  ) to these tribal communities, under conditions set by Government Resolution. In the new Law on Forest Management the cutting permit areas are called Community Forests  ( ” Gemeenschapsbos “ ) and may include one or more categories of forests.

 

  • The Laws on the Issuance of State‑owned Lands ("Agrarische Wet" of 1937 and "Decreet Uitgifte Domeingrond" of 15 June 1982) are also used to protect certain natural areas. For instance the Brownsberg Nature Park, has been issued on a long‑term lease base to the Foundation for Nature Preservation in Suriname. The Foundation manages it as a national park

 

Furthermore the Bigi Pan estuarine area has been put at the disposal of (“ter beschikking gesteld van”) the Ministry of Natural Resources, and is managed by the Forest Service as a Multiple‑Use Management Area (MUMA). In the same way MUMA's have been established in North Commewijne‑Marowijne, North Saramacca and North Coronie areas. In this way the remaining estuarine areas of North Wanica – Paramaribo and between Wia Wia and Galibi Nature Reserves are not yet proposed or established as a MUMA. It is important that these areas become a MUMA, so that the entire estuarine zone will be covered by this form of protected area.

 

The Ministerial Decree on Guidelines Issuance of Land in Estuarine Management Areas 2005 (No. 180/0036 of 15 February 2005) gives e.g. instructions regarding zones where issuance of land is possible or not and regarding the conditions for issuance.

 

Note that MUMA’s officially cover only FREE DOMAINLAND; that means that domainland that is issued and has a certain title (on the land) is NOT a part  of the MUMA. However, the four MUMA Management Plans cover the entire landarea’s (free domainland AND titled land) and the adjacent sea untill the six-meter-depth line.

 

  • The Planning Law ("Planwet" of 1973): it contains mechanisms to establish Special Management Areas, to be developed as Multiple‑Use Management Areas.

 

In the Planning Law the Government underlined the importance of protected areas. Article 3 paragraph 3 indicates the necessity "to create spatial conditions for the maintenance of a sound living environment, for instance by securing nature reserves and recreational spaces in conformity with the future extent of the population, and also by safeguarding cleanliness of soil, water and air".

 

 

5. Characteristics of protected areas ( mainly from M. Werkhoven and F. Baal, 1995)

 

Established protected areas: (Note: Numbers refer to those on the map.)

 

1.   Hertenrits Nature Reserve (approx. 100 ha; IUCN Category III; 1972) is an archeological monument of pre‑Columbian culture of the Indigenous People.

 

I.   Bigi Pan Multiple‑Use Management Area*. (Approx. 67,900 ha of free domain and and titled land ; this 67,900 ha does not include the 100 ha of the HERTENRITS Nature Reserve ; IUCN Category VI; 1987). See: Ministerial Decree of 30 December 1987 no. 4423/0880 in the Advertising Bulletin of the Republic Suriname 2002 no. 94.

This area is the western part of the Suriname estuarine zone and comprises some 67,900 ha of land (  not including 100 ha Hertenrits Nature Reserve), and at least an equal area of marine waters. It consists of fresh and brackish water ecosystems, has a high productivity and serves as feeding and breeding grounds for large numbers of local and migratory bird species. It is also nursery ground for fish and shrimp.

 

*)Note that MUMA’s officially cover only FREE DOMAINLAND; that means that domainland that is issued and has a certain title (on the land) is NOT a part  of the MUMA.

However, the four MUMA Management Plans cover the entire landarea’s (free domainland AND titled land) and the adjacent sea untill the six-meter-depth line.

 

In 1987, this area was placed under the jurisdiction of the Minister of Natural Resources to be managed as a Multiple-use Management Area. This was done to safeguard its long‑term ecological functions, its high biological productivity and its sustainable use by man.

 

II.  North Coronie Multiple-Use Management Area* (approx. 27,200 ha of free domainland and titled land; IUCN Category VI; 2001) is the eastern extension of the Bigi Pan MUMA. See: Ministerial Decree of 25 March 2001 no. 451/0129 in State Bulletin 2002 no. 87.

 

2.      Coppenamemonding Nature Reserve (approx.12,000 ha; IUCN Category IV; 1966) 

comprises of mudflats, brackish water grass swamps, and mangrove forests. It is primarily intended to protect nesting colonies and roosting places of herons, scarlet ibis and other waterfowl. It is placed on the list of the Wetland Convention.

 

III.  North Saramacca Multiple-Use Management Area* (approx. 88,400 ha of free domainland and titled land; this 88,400 ha does not include the  area of Coppename-monding NR; IUCN category VI; 2001) is located around the Coppename-monding NR.

See: Ministerial Decree of 25 March 2001 n0. 452/0130 in State Bulletin 2002 no.88.

 

  1. Wia wia Nature Reserve (approx. 36,000 ha; IUCN category IV; 1961, exp. 1966).

Established to protect sea turtle nesting beaches. Since the sand beaches have moved westward, out of the reserve, no nesting of sea turtles takes place in the reserve at this time. The reserve encompasses also mudflats and mangrove forests and offers feeding, nesting and roosting sites for numerous species of local as well as migratory birds.

 

IV.  North Commewijne – Marowijne Multiple-Use Management Area* (approx. 61,500 ha of free domainland and titled land; this 61,500 ha does not include the area of Wia Wia NR; IUCN category VI; 2002) is located around the Wia Wia NR.

See: Ministerial Decree of 4 March 2002 no. 253/0085 in the Advertising Bulletin of the Republic of Suriname 2002 no. 94.

 

4.  Galibi Nature Reserve (approx. 4,000 ha; IUCN category IV; 1969) is created to protect sea turtles nesting beaches. It includes  important nesting beaches for the leatherback (Dermochelys coriacea), the green turtle (Chelonia mydas), and the olive ridley (Lepidochelys olivacea).

 

5.  Peruvia Nature Reserve (approx. 31,000 ha;IUCN category IV; 1986) encompasses the last vast complexes of Hura crepitans forests (which serve as a foraging area for the blue‑and‑yellow macaws (Ara ararauna), and swamps alternating with Mauritia flexuosa forests.

6.  Boven‑Coesewijne Nature Reserve (approx. 27,000 ha; IUCN category IV;  1986)  represents unbleached brown‑sand savannas, mixed mesophytic forests. The river in the reserve is an excellent habitat for manatees (Trichechus manatus), giant otters (Pteronura brasiliensis), and spectacled caimans (Caiman crocodilus).

 

*)Note that MUMA’s officially cover only FREE DOMAINLAND; that means that domainland that is issued and has a certain title (on the land) is NOT a part  of the MUMA.

However, the four MUMA Management Plans cover the entire landarea’s (free domainland AND titled land) and the adjacent sea untill the six-meter-depth line.

7.   Brinckheuvel Nature Reserve (approx. 6,000 ha; IUCN category IV; 1966) holds the most characteristic part of the Subgraywacke landscape, formed by low, elongate, parallel, and gently sloping ridges. The residual and colluvial soils bear savanna vegetation while the alluvial soil bears xerophytic wood and mesophytic forest.

 

8.  Brownsberg Nature Park ( approx. 12.200 ha; IUCN category II; 1970, expanded. 2002) was obtained by STINASU in 1969 on long term lease. It is the northern part of the Brownsberg plateau . Due to the high biological diversity, the accessibility and the infrastructure, this nature park has served as a center for research, nature education and public awareness, as well as ecotourism.

 

9.  Copi Nature Reserve (approx. 28,000 ha; IUCN category IV; 1986).

The elevated clay flats of the Old Coastal Plain support different forest types. Wet and dry savannas are found on white sands, and clays. The reserve harbours also populations of giant otters and caimans.

 

10.  Wanekreek Nature Reserve (approx 45,000 ha;IUCN category IV; 1986).

Savannas on several soil types are present, as well as marsh and ridge forests, and swamps. In addition to remnants of  pre‑columbian habitation and agriculture on ridged fields, traces of settlements of the first runaway slaves are found here.

 

11.  Sipaliwini Nature Reserve (approx 100.000 ha; IUCN category IV; 1972) is situated along the border with Brazil. The savanna in this reserve is part of the extensive Paru savanna of Brazil. There are also gallery forests, freshwater swamps, isolated patches of forest, and granite outcroppings. At least one frog (Dendrobatus azureus) is known to be endemic.

 

  1.  Central Suriname Nature Reserve (approx. 1,600,000 ha; IUCN category I B;

1998) covers the pre-existing Raleighvallen, Tafelberg and Eilerts de Haan Nature Reserves. The CSNR was inscribed as a natural heritage site on the (UNESCO) World Heritage List on 2 December 2000.

 

Note that on 6 May 2003 there has been a ceremony at Raleighvallen within the Central Suriname Nature Reserve for the official proclamation of CSNR as a natural World Heritage Site. The Director General of UNESCO, Mr. Koïchiro Matsuura had handed over the UNESCO certificate with regards to the inscription of the CSNR on the List of World Heritage Sites to the Minister of Natural Resources of Suriname, Mr. Franco Demon in the presence of the Minster of Education, Mr. Walter Sandriman, the Head of the Forest Service, Mr. Carlo Julen, Chiefs of four Marroon/Indigenous People Tribes, other invited officials, press and the Head of the Nature Conservation Division (also the CSNR Site manager). The Director General of UNESCO also unveiled a plaquette of the CNSR World Heritage Site.

 

Raleighvallen area: The vegetation predominantly consists of mixed mesophytic tropical rainforest, vegetation’s in rapids and falls and granite outcroppings (inselberg), notably the impressive 240 m. high, dome‑shaped Voltzberg and the 360 m high Van Stockumberg. All eight in Suriname occurring species of primates live here.

About 350 bird species are known to occur in the reserve, among these the Guianan Cock‑of‑the‑Rock (Rupicola rupicola).

 

Tafelberg area:  The most interesting ecosystems here are part of the Roraima sandstone formation. To our present knowledge, the Tafelberg (table mountain) is the easternmost extension of what is left of this formation. The mountain has the same physiography as the Kaieteuran series in Guyana and the Tepuis in Venezuela A savanna, which is the only one on Roraima sandstone that is situated at lower elevations, occurs also in the reserve. Primeval tropical rainforest and other ecosystems occur here.

 

Eilerts de Haan area: is part of a mountain range with primeval tropical rainforest as well as ecosystems typical of the mountainous interior.

  

Proposed protected areas: (Note: Numbers refer to those on the map.)

 

12.  Nani Nature Reserve (approx. 54,000 ha; IUCN category IV). The area encompasses mesophytic, hydrophytic  forests, and swaying swamps. This area is famous for its populations of spectacled caiman (Caiman crocodilus) and manatees (Trichechus manatus).

 

13.  Mac Clemen Forest Reserve (approx. 6,000 ha; IUCN category VI), with complexes of Mora and Carapa spp.

 

14. Kaburikreek Nature Reserve (approx. 68,000 ha; IUCN category IV). The vegetation consists of mesophytic and xerophytic forests. The creek is the habitat of a large population of giant otters (Pteronura brasiliensis) and the Guiana otter (Lutra enudris).

 

15.  Snake Creek Forest Reserve (4,000 ha; IUCN category VI), with Ocotea rodiaei complexes.

 

Note: In 1976 the entire estuarine area was proposed as a special management area (“bijzonder beheersgebied”) which is equivalent to a Multiple-Use Management area. The areas north of the Wanica and Paramaribo districts and between the Wia Wia and Galibi Nature Reserves are NOT  yet established as MUMA.

 

6. International obligation

 

Suriname also has international obligations regarding protected areas. In this regard, Suriname has  signed Agenda 21 and is party to the following conventions and agreements:

·        The Convention on Nature Protection and Wildlife Preservation in the Western Hemisphere (Western Hemisphere Convention),

·        The Convention on Wetlands of International Importance especially as Waterfowl Habitat (Wetlands Convention),

·        The Convention on Biological Diversity,

·        The Amazon Cooperative Treaty,

·        The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change,

·        The World Heritage Convention,

·        The United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification,

·        Bilateral agreements with e.g. Brazil, Guyana, and Venezuela.

 

Suriname is also in the process to accede to:

  • The Convention for the Protection and Development of the Marine Environment of the Wider Caribbean Region, and its Protocols (Oil Spills, and Specially Protected Areas and Wildlife, and Land‑based sources of Pollution). Note :  Suriname officially participates in the Caribbean Environment Programme.

 

The Nature Conservation Division of  Forest Service and STINASU co‑operate with several international and foreign organizations such as the:

  • United Nations Development Program (UNDP),

  • Global Environment Facility (GEF),

  • United Nations Environment Program (UNEP),

  • Special Environment Commission of the Amazon Cooperation Treaty (CEMAA),

  • Caribbean Environment Program (CEP),

  • Western Hemisphere Shorebird Reserve Network ( WHSRN ),

  • World Wildlife Fund ( WWF)

  • World Conservation Union (lUCN) and its Commissions,

  • Conservation International (CI),

  • French Reginal Office of Environment and other conservation organisations in Cayenne,

  • Environment Protection Agency , the Wildlife Bureau and other conservation organisations in Georgetown, Guyana, and the

  • State Institute for Nature Management (RIN)  and other conservation organisations in The Netherlands.

 

Within Suriname the Nature Conservation Division maintains contacts and cooperation relationships with several government agencies ( including the University ), non‑government agencies ( e.g. Suriname Conservation Foundation ) and with the local communities.

Note: Suriname Conservation Foundation (a trust fund) was established in 2001 with financial input from several donors to enhance biodiversity conservation/management in Suriname .

 

 

7. Participation of local communities

The Nature Preservation Resolution of 1986 includes a provision for the so‑called "traditional”rights and interests of  tribal communities with regard to the  established protected areas .

 

Several meetings with these communities had resulted in an agreement that  people living in tribal communities would be able to maintain their "traditional “ rights and interests inside the nature reserves which were established, provided that:

  • no harm is done to the national objectives of the proposed nature reserves;

  • the motives for these "traditional “ rights and interests still exist; and

  • the "traditional “ rights and interests are limited to the time of consolidation of all people into a unified citizenship of Suriname.

 

The "traditional “ rights and interests can be described as follows:

  • free choice for the settlement of a village (this means permission to build camps);

  • free choice of parcel(s) for the establishment of shifting cultivation grounds;

  • permission to hunt;

  • permission to fish; and

  • possibility to maintain a cutting permit.

 

These activities may only take place on public lands , which have not yet been formally issued to third parties. Furthermore, this freedom of action is limited by their own traditional and cultural norms and the general laws and the specific legal instruments on hunting, fishing, and forest utilization.

 

The policy of the Forest Service with regard to the involvement of the local communities has two "tracks”:

  1. For long term activities a management plan for each protected area will be drafted after consultation with the local communities. In this plan a consultation structure will be elaborated with regard to the management of the area concerned.

 

Note : At present there is a Consultation Commission for the Galibi Nature Reserve with two representatives of the nearby villages Christiaankondre and Langamankondre, one representative of the Districts Commissioner of district Marowijne, the Head of the Fisheries Service, the Director STINASU and the Head of the Nature Conservation Division (chair).

 

  1. For short term activities several projects (e.g. on nature tourism, agriculture and fisheries) can  be drafted with the involvement of the local communities.

 

Note : In the Galibi Nature Reserve there is at present a cooperation on nature tourism and sea turtle conservation between the local  organisation STIDUNAL and STINASU.

 

Lit.: Werkhoven M.C.M. and F.L.J. BaaL 1995. Biodiversity Conservation and Management in Suriname.

 

 

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