Forests are essential to supporting life on Earth. The forests of the Guianas, together with similar forests in Brazil, Venezuela and Colombia within the Guiana Shield, are also referred as the lungs of the planet. They form one of the largest continuous tracts of primary tropical rainforest left in the world. With a forest cover of more than 90% in Suriname and French Guiana and over 80% Guyana the countries belong to the few High Forest cover, Low Deforestation countries (HFLD) in the world.
Together they comprise of 7% of the Amazon biome and form a vital part of the larger Guiana Shield. This ecosystem boasts an incredible animal and plant species and a forest that can reach up to 40 meters in height. It delivers an array of ecosystem services; captures large amounts of carbon, provides timber and non-timber forest products, and a home and livelihood for local people living in it.
However, the forests in the Guianas are under rising pressure. Deforestation is increasing due to irreponsible and illegal goldmining and logging. As a consequence mercury pollution and poaching of threatened species, such as the majestic jaguar, is also a growing threat to the forest ecosystems.
Large areas of Guyana and Suriname are allocated as forest concessions. This has resulted in substantial pressure one ecosystems through forest degradation from intensive logging, and the construction of logging roads. Forest degradation from logging has the potential to also become a primary source of forest carbon emissions in the future.
Growth of offshore exploration activities in Suriname and the discovery of near-shore oil wells in Guyana have massively impacted the rate of infastructural developement. Already, we have seen forests (coastal and inland) being cleared for the construction of gas to shore projects, harbours, roads, and industry. Infrastructure also brings to the forests more people and pollution, creating habitat loss and loss of wildlife.
Our efforts seek to reconcile humanity with nature. Projects aimed at reducing human ecological footprint by finding ways to reduce humanity’s demands on the biosphere. Many projects include those aimed at improving the management and monitoring of the Forests, such as, an Early Warning System (EWS), Advocacy for Sustainable Forest Management, wildlife conservation of iconic species (Jaguars) and phasing out of mercury in mining.
The focus of these projects is to improve the sustainable management of the forest, including by using near real-time monitoring and predictive deforestation models as well as through logging certification at both the community and national level.
WWF-Guianas also focuses on people and wildlife, much effort is being placed to support the phasing out of mercury in mining and to work with miners to find alternative solutions thereby improving mining practices as well at reducing pollution in rivers and streams critical to forest-based communities. Our wildlife conservation projects seek to have a better understanding of endangered jaguars in the Guianas there by developing a national jaguar conservation strategy.