The Central Suriname Nature Reserve comprises nearly four million acres of primary tropical forest. Covering a range of ecosystems, it protects the upper watershed of the Coppename River and the headwaters of the Lucie, Oost, Zuid, Saramaccz, and Gran Rio rivers.
Central Suriname Nature Reserve
The Central Suriname Nature Reserve was established in 1998 to link up three preexisting Nature Reserves: Raleighvallen, Eilerts de Haan, and Tafelberg.
By adding significant areas in the process, the Central Suriname Nature Reserve World Heritage Site now forms an immense protected area covering around eleven percent of Suriname's national territory.
The reserve, encompassing 1,592,000 ha (3,934,000 acres), comprises the primary tropical forests of the Guianan Moist Forests ecoregion in west-central Suriname. This area is situated on the Guiana Shield within the phylogeographic limits of Amazonia.
The Central Suriname Nature Reserve protects the upper watershed of the mighty Coppename River and the headwaters of several other important rivers, covering a broad range of topography, ecosystems, and habitats.
Several distinctive geological and physical formations occur in the Central Suriname Nature Reserve, including granite inselbergs (volcanic rock hills) that rise to 360 m (1180 ft) above the surrounding tropical forest.
The easternmost tabletop mountain or "Tepui" of the Guiana Shield is located in the Nature Reserve, including the Wilhelmina Mountain Range in the south, culminating at Juliana Top, Suriname's highest elevation at 1,230 m (4,035 ft).
The Nature Reserve is of considerable conservation value due to its large scale and pristine state as an uninhabited and unhunted region. Around 40% of the plants and animals here are found only in the Guianas, and the vast majority of the reserve is dense impenetrable wilderness.
The montane and lowland forests contain a high diversity of plant life, with almost 5,000 vascular plant species collected to date, many endemic. There are also areas of swamp forest, savanna and xerophytic vegetation on the granite outcrops.
The Nature Reserve's 400 recorded bird species include the charismatic Harpy Eagle, Guiana Cock-of-the-Rock, and Scarlet Macaw.
In addition, there are viable populations of numerous mammals typical of the region, including the Jaguar, Giant Armadillo, Giant River Otter, Lowland Tapir and eight species of primates. However, much of the Nature Reserve has yet to be inventoried, and the extent of the area's diversity is not fully known.
Pre-Colombian cultural artifacts and petroglyphs have been found near rivers and creeks in different parts of the property, suggesting a potentially significant cultural heritage hidden within the vast and almost inaccessible property.