Suriname: The Last Eden?

Although many untouched corners of the world have been hailed as The Last Eden – think Patagonia in Argentina, the Okavango Delta of Botswana, the Ndoki Region of the Democratic Republic of Congo, the wild island of Borneo – Suriname has a legitimate claim to the title. Ninety percent of this mysterious nation is covered in thick neotropical jungle, and only 430,000 people live here, with a population density similar to that of Russian Siberia. Most importantly, as the Amazon rainforest to the south continues to be slashed and burned, the jungles of Suriname – widely considered the most pristine on the planet – might represent our last chance to save what remains of the New World’s once-sprawling forests.

Once traded to the Dutch by the English in return for modern-day Manhattan, Suriname is one of those rare countries few people can locate on a map. Nestled between Guyana and French Guiana on the northeast shoulder of South America, Suriname sits atop the Guiana Shield, one of the oldest terrestrial environments on the surface of the earth. According to Dr. David Hammond, the Guianan forests provide a “snapshot of the evolutionary process extending back to a Cretaceous Gondwanaland, more than 120 million years ago.” In other words, the jungles of Suriname are “an ancient land in a modern world.”

(photo: Jason Rothe)

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