Towards Sound Land Use Decision-making in Suriname: A Natural Capital Approach to Support Sustainable Land Use Planning Policies in Regions of Tribal and Indigenous Peoples

Towards Sound Land Use Decision-making in Suriname: A Natural Capital Approach to Support Sustainable Land Use Planning Policies in Regions of Tribal and Indigenous Peoples

Suriname - 24 July, 2018

As part of our Land Use Planning project that started in 2013, Tropenbos Suriname conducted a 1-day seminar: ‘Sustainable land use planning in regions of Indigenous and Tribal Peoples’ for policy makers and representatives from the government, NGO’s, the private sector, and the local population. This seminar is a continuation of the activities in the Upper Suriname River area, where two 3D land use maps were produced with and for the communities. Apart from the 3D maps, an ecosystem service assessment was performed in the area and participative scenarios for the future were developed. A policy document ‘Saamaka Lio as habitat and productive landscape: Lessons for inclusive and sustainable land use planning from the Upper Suriname River area’ has been produced and was presented during this seminar. The ultimate goal is that all information is available as much as possible and is used as a planning tool by communities and policymakers to achieve sustainable development for the benefit of people, nature, and our country.

Tropenbos Suriname started to apply the Natural Capital Approach as part of the Land Use Planning project by adapting the Trade-Off! Game to the Surinamese context. By introducing the Trade-Off! Game we had an opportunity to engage stakeholders in our project, gain understanding of their views of the Upper Suriname River study area, and consolidate a platform for further collaboration, including initiating a scenario development process.

The seminar was highly informative and highlighted the need to consider natural resources and local interests in land-use planning. The Natural Capital Approach offers possibilities to do so. Apart from examples from this organization, Tropenbos Suriname, the Foundation for Indigenous Village Chiefs in Suriname (VIDS), WWF, and Iwokrama Research Center were able to expose their work. About 60 people divided into five groups were able to practice the Trade-Off! Game and experience the need to consider biodiversity spots in land-use planning. The seminar was concluded with a panel discussion. As a spin off effect, stakeholders were very interested in using the Trade-Off! Game as a learning tool in different land use planning bodies.


The seminar was directly followed by a 2-day training: ‘Introduction to the Natural Capital Approach and InVEST Software Suite method’ for personnel from organizations who work with GIS and land-use planning, such as the Foundation for Forest Management and Production Control (SBB), Anton de Kom University of Suriname, Centre for Agricultural Research in Suriname, VIDS, Amazon Conservation Team, Green Heritage Fund Suriname, Conservation International Suriname, the UNDP, the National Planning Bureau, and several Ministries, such as, Natural Resources; Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries; and Public Works and Communication. The two Natural Capital trainers presented several models and tools which can be useful in land-use decision planning in Suriname. This experience will
help to translate the information when the participants will apply similar approaches and tools in their own research program or work areas. At the end of the training the participants received their certificate for successful participation.


The last activity was a 2-day fieldtrip to make the foreign guests acquainted with the field and to explore opportunities for further collaboration. The Natural Capital Project expressed interest to maintain contact with Tropenbos Suriname and the other organizations involved in the training, and Iwokrama Research Centre expressed interest for collaboration with Tropenbos Suriname.