The Iwokrama Rainforest in Guyana is a vast and diverse wilderness area covering nearly 400,000 ha (1,000,000 acres) in the heart of the Guiana Shield region in South America. It is one of the world's four last pristine tropical forests, including the Congo, New Guinea, and Amazon rainforests.
The Iwokrama Rainforest in Guyana is a vast and diverse wilderness area covering nearly 400,000 ha (1,000,000 acres) in the heart of the Guiana Shield region of South America. It is one of the world's four last pristine tropical forests, including the Congo, New Guinea, and Amazon rainforests.
Situated in the central part of Guyana, the Essequibo River forms the eastern boundary, while the northern boundary is the Siparuni River. The Burro-Burro River runs through the center, and most of its watershed is within the forest.
The area is covered with lowland tropical forests and dominated by tall tropical trees with a dense canopy 20 - 30 m (70 - 100 ft) high. At approximately 300 m (1,000 ft) high, the Iwokrama Mountains form the geographic focal point of the rainforest.
The rainforest encompasses a range of ecosystems, including pristine tropical rainforests, mountains, rivers, wetlands, and savannas.
The Iwokrama Rainforest is a global biodiversity hotspot, housing an astonishing array of plant and animal species. The forest is estimated to be home to around 1,500 species of flowering plants, 500 species of birds, 200 species of mammals, and an abundance of reptiles, amphibians, and fish.
Iwokrama Forest Reserve
The Iwokrama Forest Reserve is a protected area that covers 3,716 sq km (1,435 sq mi) of the Iwokrama Rainforest in central Guyana. It is situated within the Guiana Shield region, recognized as one of the world's last remaining wilderness areas.
The Forest Reserve is bordered to the west by the Pakaraima Mountains and to the east by the isolated highlands scattered throughout east-central Guyana. Savannahs in the southwest and northeast of Guyana also border it.
The Iwokrama Rainforest is recognized as one of the world's most pristine and biodiverse areas. It is estimated to contain around 1,500 species of flowering plants, including rare orchids and bromeliads.
The forest is also home to an impressive array of wildlife, such as jaguars, giant otters, tapirs, giant anteaters, harpy eagles, and numerous monkeys, frogs, and reptiles.
Some notable species include the red howler monkey, the spider monkey, the wedge-capped capuchin, the bearded saki, the brown capuchin and the white-faced saki monkey. It is also home to the giant anteater, the giant river otter, and the giant armadillo.
The rivers and waterways within the rainforest support diverse fish species, including the famous arapaima, one of the largest freshwater fish in the world.
Rainforests are crucial in mitigating climate change by acting as carbon sinks. The Iwokrama Rainforest, with its dense vegetation and large biomass, helps absorb and store significant amounts of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, reducing greenhouse gas emissions and combating global warming.
Iwokrama International Center
The Iwokrama International Centre for Rainforest Conservation and Development was established in 1996 as a pioneering model for the sustainable management of tropical forests. It is the focal point for research, conservation, and sustainable development initiatives within the Iwokrama Rainforest.
The center promotes scientific research, provides technical expertise, supports community-based projects, and facilitates eco-tourism activities in the region.
Indigenous communities inhabit the rainforest with a deep cultural connection and dependence on the forest. The Makushi, Wapishana, and Patamona peoples have traditionally lived in harmony with nature, utilizing its resources sustainably and preserving their cultural heritage.
These communities have a close relationship with the Iwokrama International Centre for Rainforest Conservation and Development, which collaborates with them in conservation efforts, sustainable livelihoods, and the protection of their traditional knowledge and practices.