Tropical Eden Revealed

In SE Suriname, Scientists Document New Biodiversity and Pristine Ecosystems.

An international team of field biologists studying the never-before assessed mountainous region of Southeastern Suriname – a wilderness area virtually without any human influence and among the most remote and unexplored tracts of rainforest left on Earth – has discovered a wealth of ecosystem services whose protection will be essential for the country’s climate resilience, freshwater security, and green development strategy. The scientific expedition also documented an amazing richness of biodiversity, including 60 species that are likely new to science and unique species that may exist nowhere else on Earth.

Following the three-week 2012 expedition and subsequent data analysis, the group of 16 scientists led by Conservation International’s Rapid Assessment Program have just published their results. Among the key findings is the importance of fresh water in the region. The area’s mountain ranges contain the headwaters of some of the largest rivers in Suriname, providing vital water for transportation, food (especially fish), drinking and sanitation for approximately 50,000 people in the surrounding areas as well as along the river and as far as Paramaribo, the country’s capital near the Atlantic coast.

These headwaters also support downstream energy production, agriculture and other economic activities.  CI scientists found that while other parts of Suriname are likely to become drier, Southeast Suriname will be most resilient to climate change, and is therefore disproportionately important for ensuring sustainable flows of water in the future. Ensuring these forested headwaters remain intact is vital for the country’s people and economy, and a future resource for the region and the world.

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