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Guyana's Forests

Nearly 165,000 km2 or seventy-five percent of Guyana's land area is covered with natural vegetation. The Guyana Forestry Commission is responsible for the management of approximately 136,000 km2 classified as State Forests. The remainder of the forested areas are either State Land, Amerindian Land or private property


 

The GFC is currently involved in several projects to effectively manage the forest's resources. The details are available in the Projects section of this website.
 
Forest Values
The forest plays an important role in watershed protection.  Water conservancies have been established for the supply of irrigation water upon which the agricultural industry is dependent.  Watersheds that supply these conservancies are mostly white sand areas where much of the forest cover has been lost due to bauxite mining, agriculture and the intensive harvesting of fuelwood.  Annual flooding of low lying coastal areas is a frequent problem attributed in part to this forest clearance.  It is important that the watersheds are put under a multiple-use management regime with the primary management objective being the maintenance of good watershed characteristics.

Guyana's Biodiversity!

The biodiverstiy of the forests has been the subject of a number of surveys and studies, mostly by foreign universities and institutions.  The Smithsonian Institute which has co-operated with Government in the establishment of a Biodiversity centre in Guyana, has conducted systematic studies of the flora and fauna.  A National Biodiversity Strategy has been approved by Cabinet which establishes national regulations governing the prospecting of biological and genetic resources and protects intellectual property, particularly of the indigenous Amerindian people.
 

Classification of the Forests

Rain Forests


Guyana' Rain Forest

Rain forests occur in areas where the climate is wet, with rain occurring every month or where dry spells are short. Trees are numerous and stand in strata or layers, ranging from low shrubs to very tall dominant trees with large spreading crowns. Climbers and epiphytes are  abundant. In Guyana, rain forests are the most common forest type, occurring from the north-west through to the south of the country. It is also the most important type for timber production.

Seasonal forests (also known as monsoon forests) occur where there are regular dry seasons. Trees are not as tall and the top of the forest canopy is more even. In the dry season, the larger trees often lose their leaves. Climbers and epiphytes are less abundant. Seasonal forests are found in Guyana in the north Rupununi and the upper Berbice areas.
 

Dry Forests


Wallaba Forests

Dry forests occur where soil moisture is frequently limited either because the soil drains rapidly or where there is excessive evaporation due to strong winds. Examples of dry forest are found on the white sands of the Soesdyke-Linden highway and throughout the Pakaraima Mountains. Wallaba forests (as seen in the picture above) are common in the white sand regions.
 

Seasonal Forests

Swamp forest

Swamp forests (see picture)  occur where drainage is impeded and soils are frequently waterlogged. This forest type includes the mangrove forest along  the coastline and the Mora forests occurring in lowland swampy areas and along the interior.

Mangrove forests provide protection to the shoreline against erosion and are an important habitat for marine life.  Removal of mangroves for fuelwood from the Essequibo River to the Corentyne has not only exposed lengths of coastline to erosion but also degraded these ecosystems, limiting their ability to act as nurseries for pelagic fish species ( an estimated 75 percent of fish caught  commercially spend some time in the mangroves or are dependent on food chains which can be traced back to these coastal forests). Mangrove plants and sediments have also been shown to absorb pollution, including heavy metals. Mangroves along the north-west coast are still largely intact.  An evaluation of the mangrove resource is to be carried out by the Guyana Forestry Commission and plans for its protection and management are to be developed.

 

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Copyright 2004 Guyana Forestry Commission
Last modified: 01/27/05