A small country nestled on the northeast coast of South America, Suriname holds the title of most forested country on Earth. Ninety-three percent of its land area is forested and comprises part of a unique, biodiverse region known as the Guiana Shield. Mangroves line the coastlines while tropical forests, home to surprising and rare species of wildlife, cover the interior. The forests provide food, medicines, and building materials to communities of Indigenous peoples and Maroons, the descendants of African slaves who fled plantations and created new lives in the interior where they could not be found. The low population density, low development, and abundance of tropical forests means Suriname is among the rare carbon-negative countries in the world – but it faces a challenge to stay that way.
Rich in minerals, the landscape has attracted both small-scale and industrial mining, especially in the past two decades for gold, which has had destructive and toxic repercussions for people, wildlife, and watersheds. In addition, as a means of fostering development, communities are unevenly developing timber harvest and export of roundwood. If managed sustainably, this could prove a forest-positive development strategy, but so far there has been insufficient regulation to guarantee the long-term vitality of forests. Communities often do not have capacity to set up commercial timber harvest themselves, so they work with outside companies, which means forests are sometimes abused by over extraction.
This map of Bigi Poika and its forest landscape information is available by clicking here.
The Saamaka Maroon community of Bigi Poika, in Para District, however, is developing an exemplary model of sustainable forest management. It stands to show the best that can be done with the forest for long-term prosperity and resiliency. With guidance from Tropenbos Suriname, Bigi Poika is producing conservation timber for export and expanding agroforestry. Cities can source wood from the community to support this important work!
Bigi Poika, Suriname
Learn more about Bigi Poika
Read about Tropenbos International Suriname is doing with forest communities like Bigi Poika.
Discover how the community of Bigi Poika is managing their forest in a sustainable way by watching this Tropenbos International Suriname video.
Learn more about Bigi Poika by visiting this WRI Global Forest Watch site.
Watch this Tropenbos International Suriname video to learn more about what is being done to support community forestry in Bigi Poika.