Central Suriname Nature Reserve
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The Central Suriname Nature Reserve (CSNR) TEAM site began in 2005 and is managed in partnership with the Suriname Forest Service and Conservation International Suriname.
The CSNR, a United Nations Natural Heritage Site since 2000, is a 16,000 km2 tract of pristine forest in the heart of one of the world's most forested countries (more than 90 percent forest coverage). It was officially designated on July 31, 1998 and is legally protected, under the country’s Nature Protection Act of 1954. The reserve forms a crucial corridor linking 3 former protected areas: Raleighvallen Nature Reserve (78,000 ha), Eilerts de Haan Gebergte Nature Reserve (220,000 ha) and Tafelberg (Table mountain) Nature Reserve (140,000 ha). These pre-existing reserves (that are now IUCN category II), were designated by State Resolution on April 22, 1966.
The site encompasses significant vertical relief, topography and soil conditions that have resulted in a variety of ecosystems. This variation allows organisms within these ecosystems to move in response to disturbance, adapt to change, and maintain gene flow between populations. The site's size and undisturbed state is considered a rare condition in Amazonian forest parks. The area offers significant protection for much of the Coppename watershed, thus allowing for long-term functioning of the entire ecosystem. CSNR contains a high diversity of plant and animal species, many of which are endemic to the Guyana Shield and are recognized to be globally threatened.
There are less than 1,000 recorded annual visitors to the CSNR, the majority of whom are foreign. Visitors include researchers, scientists and independent adventure travelers.
Four broad ecological zones are identified in Suriname: the young coastal plain, the old coastal plain, the savanna belt and the interior. The Central Suriname Nature Reserve lies in the interior of the country (three-quarters of Suriname is in this zone), and displays a variety of natural habitats and a rich flora. The Reserve forms a corridor linking three important protected areas in central Suriname: the Raleighvallen Nature reserve in the north, and the Tafelberg and Eilerts de Hann Gebergte Nature Reserves in the central and southern portion of the corridor. The area protects the watershed of one of Suriname's most important river systems, the Coppename River. The CSNR predominantly consists of montane and lowland forests and maintains a high diversity of plant life with almost 6,000 vascular plant species collected to date.
Despite relatively nutrient-poor soils, the CSNR is dominated by pristine primary tropical rain forest, thus representing one of the largest tracts of undisturbed, uninhabited and unhunted primary forest in the tropics. Small fragments of marsh forest exist along rivers and creeks, and there are also areas of isolated savanna. A unique ecosystem occurring in parts of the reserve is the Roraima sandstone savanna, the only one of its type in Suriname. This savanna, known as Rudi Kappel savanna, extends over an area of 1,000 ha, and is situated at an elevation of 300 m. The vegetation of the inselbergs is also unique, as significantly differs from that of the surrounding forest. Xerophytic vegetation occurs on and around the granite outcrops, consisting predominantly of plants from Bromelia, Poaceae and Orchidacea families. Epilitic (growing on stones or rocks) species of orchids are also often found. The former Raleighvallen Nature Reserve contains the majority of the forest systems present in the CSNR. Moist mesophytic forest predominates, although swamp forest, marsh forest, liana forest, savanna forest and mountain savanna forest is distinguished. The canopy of mesophytic forest typically extends to a height of 30 m, although in some instances it can reach 40-50m.
The CSNR is known to contain more than 400 of Suriname's known bird species, including Scarlet, Red-and-Green and Blue-and-Gold Macaws, (Ara macao, Ara chloroptera, Ara ararauna); Great Tinamou (Tinamus major), Black Curassow (Crax alector) the Guianan Cock-of-the-Rock (Rupicola rupicola) and the Harpy Eagle (Harpia harpyja). The northern section of the CSNR is known globally as one of the best places to see Red and Green Macaws (Ara chloptera) and the Guianan Cock-of-the Rock (Rupicola rupicola).
The Reserve is also home to all eight species of Suriname's primates, representing seven genera and two families. These include the White-faced Saki (Pithecia pithecia), the Common Squirrel Monkey (Saimiri sciureus), Red Howler Monkey (Alouatta macconnelli), Black Spider Monkey (Ateles paniscus), Red-handed Tamarin (Saguinus midas), Brown Capuchin (Cebus apella), the Weeper Capuchin (Cebus nigrivittatus) and the Black Saki (Chiropotes satanas). There are also noteworthy populations of many other animals typical of the region including Jaguar (Panthera onca), Puma (Puma concolor), Giant Armadillo (Myrmecophaga tridactyla), Giant River Otter (Pteronura brasiliensis), Tapir (Tapirus terrestris), Two-toed sloth (Choloepus didactylus) and Three-toed Sloth (Bradypus tridactylus). Much of the Reserve has yet to be explored however, thus the true extent of the site’s diversity is not fully known. To date nearly 6,000 vascular plant species have been collected from the CSNR, with five endemic plant species occurring on the Voltzberg Dome, and 42 endemic species collected from other areas of the reserve. Examples of tree species occurring in the canopies includes: kankantri (Ceiba penandra) and ingipipa (Couratari spp.). Palms constitute much of the understory, including paramacca (Astrocaryum), kumbumacca (Oenoecarpus bacaba) and maripa (Maximiliana maripa), with ferns and moss-ferns found on the forest floor.
The Central Suriname Nature Reserve (CSNR) is located in central Suriname, about 200 kilometers (km) south west of Paramaribo, in the District of Sipaliwini. The altitude of CSNR ranges from 25m to 1,230m (the summit of Juliana Top, Suriname’s highest peak).
Access to the reserve is by road-river (to Raleighvallen only), or by air. To travel by road visitors must take a bus/car to Witagron, approximately a 3-4 hour drive from Paramaribo. Upon reaching Witagron, a 2-4 hour boat trip up the Coppename River to Foenge Island brings travelers to the reserve's headquarters. The site can also be reached by air by taking a 30-40 min flight directly from Paramaribo to Foengoe Island.