Country Profiles

Suriname - Country Profile

Biodiversity Facts

Status and trends of biodiversity, including benefits from biodiversity and ecosystem services

Suriname is located on the northeast coast of South America and is part of the Amazon biome. With forest cover at 94% of the national territory, it has the distinction of being one of the greenest countries on earth. Its Exclusive Economic Zone covers 300 sea miles. The country possesses seven types of ecosystems: marine ecosystems (Atlantic Ocean, mud banks, sandbanks, mudflats), coastal ecosystems (mangrove forests, mangrove swamps), brackish water ecosystems (brackish water pans and lagoons), freshwater ecosystems (freshwater swamps, open freshwater systems such as the Upper Rivers and rapids in the Interior), savannah ecosystems (white and brown sand savannahs, rock savannahs), marsh ecosystems, inselbergs and tropical rainforest. Suriname has a long history of protecting the biological diversity in these ecosystems. Starting from 1966, 16 protected areas were established consisting of 11 nature reserves, 4 Multiple Use Management Areas (MUMAs) and 1 nature park. Together they make up about 2.1 million hectares or 13.5% of the country’s land surface.

It is recognized that following trends requires regularly collecting more detailed data. In this regard, data on timber production and deforestation are being collected on an annual and regular basis. Steps are being taken to develop a framework to document habitats and ecosystem services in the coastal region through Environmental Sensitivity Maps (ESMs). These maps will represent a comprehensive description of the aforementioned in GIS layers that are suitable for any GIS software application.

In order to guarantee sustainable forest management practices, close monitoring is occurring of usages (e.g. production of honey in the coastal areas, and nuts (and oil) harvested from the carapa tree in the Interior, that are important commodities to the Surinamese people for income and subsistence). Examples of Non Timber Forest Products (NTFPs) that generate income are the production of açai from the açai berry Euterpe oleracea (Arecaceae), medicinal plants (e.g. kwasibita or bitter-wood Quassia amara (Simaroubaceae) against fever) used by the Indigenous peoples, Maroon and other populations, oil from different seeds for the production of soap and cosmetic products as well as for consumption. Forests moreover provide opportunities for eco-tourism, while many characteristics of biodiversity are exploited for their cultural values.

Main pressures on and drivers of change to biodiversity (direct and indirect)

Major direct threats to the country’s biodiversity include: mineral mining (mined ore has traditionally been a major commodity in the national economy) and unsustainable use of mangrove forests. The presence of invasive (alien) species, the import of exotic animal and plant species that may become pests, illegal hunting and fisheries, the poaching of sea turtle eggs, the overharvesting of fish brood and the illegal trade in biological diversity, present major indirect threats. It is important to note that in certain areas white sand savannah vegetation is burnt to maintain the savannah structure. Furthermore, natural disasters and climate change are also threatening biodiversity. The disposal of chemicals and drugs (antibiotics, medicines) in the environment, infrastructure development and the construction of roads can also be added to the list.

Measures to Enhance Implementation of the Convention

Implementation of the NBSAP

Suriname's National Biodiversity Action Plan (NBAP) (2012-2016), finalized in February 2013, was essentially formulated on the basis of the directions outlined in the National Biodiversity Strategy (NBS) finalized 6 years earlier in 2007. The NBAP contains 8 objectives: (i) biodiversity conservation (ii) sustainable use of biodiversity (iii) regulated access to genetic material and associated knowledge, with fair and equitable sharing of benefits (iv) knowledge acquisition through research and monitoring (v) capacity-building (vi) CEPA (vii) cooperation at local and international levels (viii) sustainable financing. Actions for the NBAP were elaborated through a phased approach with those for the Coastal Zone, including the urbanized areas, addressed in 2007 and those for the Interior in 2010-2012. Additionally, the final version of the NBAP incorporates actions promoting comprehensive stakeholder consultations, the rights of the communities (Indigenous and Maroons), the application of the Principles of Free Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC) associated with the Nagoya Protocol, EIA/SEA, co-management of protected areas with local stakeholders.

Activities carried out in response to implementing the National Biodiversity Action Plan (NBAP) (2012-2016) as well to achieving the global biodiversity targets are highlighted in the sections below.

Suriname is currently undertaking activities aimed at developing a new NBSAP which is more aligned to the global biodiversity framework to 2020.

Actions taken to achieve the 2020 Aichi Biodiversity Targets

Examples of actions are provided below (the list is not exhaustive).

The National Forest Policy (2003) is being implemented amongst others by drafting the Code of Practice for Sustainable Forest Management and strengthening the capacity of the forest authority to further promote sustainable forest management (re Target 4). Forest cover is being monitored and the information is available for relevant stakeholders (re Target 5).

Obsolete pollutants are now being sent to countries for safe dismantling (re Target 8). The establishment of an inventory on invasive alien species is being undertaken by the National Herbarium at the Anton de Kom University of Suriname (re Target 9). Actions towards eradicating the use of mercury and protecting important underground freshwater aquifers and other freshwater sources are underway, with the major watershed of the Central Suriname Nature Reserve, and the coastal zone freshwater and brackish water swamps, already under protection (re Target 10). Land currently protected comprises about 2.1 million ha or 13.5% of the country’s territorial surface, including 16 protected areas, consisting of 11 nature reserves, 4 Multiple Use Management Areas (MUMAs) and 1 nature park (re Target 11).

Support mechanisms for national implementation (legislation, funding, capacity-building, coordination, mainstreaming, etc.)

Suriname has adopted a Fisheries Management Plan (2014-2018). By-catch reduction devices are currently tested. The Aquaculture Act is being finalized. The Fisheries Department is also a party to the Caribbean Large Marine Ecosystem Project, which was endorsed by GEF (April 2015).

The National Herbarium of Suriname in 2013 conducted the inventory of Invasive Alien Species in the MUMAs, within a pilot project assigned by the Ministry of Physical Planning, Land and Forest Management (RGB) for the Suriname Coastal Protected Areas Management Project (SCPAM). This resulted in a data monitoring plan containing a protocol and a manual to collect data on behavior of introduced plant species in the MUMAs.

Graduate programmes (Master of Sciences) in Biology and Biodiversity Conservation and in the Sustainable Development of Natural Resources have been created at the Anton de Kom University of Suriname.

The Foundation National Institute for Environment and Development in Suriname (the NIMOS), in collaboration with the ‘Mercury Free Partnership’, has published a policy document on phasing out mercury from the environment which has been distributed within the Government structure.

A task force on medicinal plants has been established at the Office of the President on the implications of becoming a Party to the Nagoya Protocol on Access and Benefit-sharing (which Suriname intends to become in the near future).

The National Plan for Forest Cover Monitoring (2014-2018) has been formulated and is currently being implemented.

By implementing the SURINAME REDD+ Programme and the CELOS Management System (a sustainable harvesting method for the timber industry developed and introduced by the Centre for Agricultural Research in Suriname), the country intends to achieve the following target: By 2020, the rate of loss of all natural habitats, including forests, is at least halved and where feasible brought close to zero, and degradation and fragmentation are significantly reduced. The WISE (Widening Informed Stakeholder) REDD+ project is also being implemented which provides support to the Government to fill the gaps in stakeholder engagement in national REDD+ Readiness programs. Finally, steps are taken towards a National Forest Monitoring System including a Measurement Reporting and Verification System.

Mechanisms for monitoring and reviewing implementation

Although Suriname does not possess a comprehensive system for monitoring and reviewing implementation, it has adopted a National Fisheries Management Plan (2014-2018) to manage marine fish stocks. The Plan incorporates methods based on the use of a GPS monitoring system for monitoring fisheries and fishing activities at sea. Regulations are in place for the inclusion of Turtle Excluding Devices (TEDs) in the fishnets of shrimp trawlers to prevent the drowning of sea turtles caught during fishing. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is also involved in a yearly inspection of shrimp trawlers in Suriname on the use of TEDs. The process of updating management and monitoring plans for the Multiple Use Management Areas (MUMAs), also known as Managed Resource Protected Areas, is provided for. Notably, Suriname’s sea-bob industry is the world’s first tropical shrimp fishery certified by the Marine Stewardship Council.