Surinamese people are becoming more aware that nature must be protected | WWF

Surinamese people are becoming more aware that nature must be protected

Posted on
19 May 2020
Michael Hiwat, our expert in marine conservation, shares his experiences and reflects on the state of the environment in Suriname.

"As a boy I was already very concerned with nature. I was a wildlife ranger, which was supported byWWF. On holiday we also always went into nature for volunteer work. Often to Matapica where laying beaches are for sea turtles. That's what defined my professional life. When I had just graduated in tropical forest engineering, I started working at Nature Management in Suriname. That was in 1994, just after the period when the first global Biodiversity Convention of Rio de Janeiro was signed. There was hope among everyone that we would do things differently. We would reverse the trend of biodiversity loss. In Suriname, an informal consultation body was set up by professionals in nature and the environment to better exchange information. Like the rest of the world, we believed - in the turning point. The time of loss of nature was over. We thought."
"But we have lost a disturbing amount of nature worldwide since then. Climate change has been a major threat. And yet I don't just see decline. My first parrot, the orange wing amazon, I used to see far outside Paramaribo. The birds were still caught for export. But due to international regulations against wildlife trade, they now fly everywhere. And the number of tight turtles laying eggs on our beaches has also increased. Probably because fewer eggs are poached. On the other hand, the number of aitkantis has fallen sharply, because they become entangled in fishing nets and die. Fishing must therefore be made more sustainable quickly. Fortunately, I see that more and more people in Suriname are aware that nature needs protection. A few years ago, a protest protest spontaneously arose against the sand excavation at Braamspunt. The laying beach for the sea turtles was in danger of disappearing. The protest has stopped the devastating work. Fortunately just in time, so there's still a stretch of beach left.  Nature is resilient. What has destroyed man can often restore nature. But we have to avoid getting past a tipping point. If an animal population is no longer viable, we will lose it for good."