Participatory Three Dimensional Mapping in the Upper Suriname River Area


Participatory Three Dimensional Mapping in the Upper Suriname River Area

The Upper Suriname River area is one of the most populated river areas in the hinterland. This forested area is a productive landscape that provides ecosystem goods and services for the livelihoods of its inhabitants, as well as large spans of habitat for biodiversity and freshwater resources.

Almost 60 villages of the Saamaka tribe (around 17,000 people) which have a long history and cultural tradition inhabit the Upper Suriname River area. For their livelihoods, they depend on this productive landscape, which is formed by a mosaic of land uses including shifting cultivation agriculture, small scale logging and nature tourism. Along with the development of the country, road infrastructure will be improved or established in the area which can bring along other commercial land uses such as logging, mining and agriculture. The different land uses may create conflicts between people and degradation of the forest. The challenge in such a scenario is to plan and achieve a sustainable productive landscape.

A good understanding of the socio-environmental dynamics of the area is of key importance to develop a sustainable productive landscape. This can be best done in collaboration with the local communities who have inhabited the area for many years. Tropenbos Suriname is developing a project together with the Association of Saamaka Authorities (VSG) to gather this information through a participatory process that includes: 1) Elaboration of a participatory three dimensional (3D) map accompanied with a detailed map, 2) assessment of the ecosystem services including biodiversity, 3) stakeholder consultations and 4) participatory scenario modeling. The produced information can provide valuable input for the villages, the government, private companies and civil organizations in order to pursue future development planning at both local and national level.

At the end it is expected that the local Saamaka people will have both a 3D model as well as detailed maps of their area, accompanied with a narrative report about the way how they use the area and the present condition of the ecosystem services. They will have a better insight and understanding of the area where they live and are able to explain this to outsiders. All stakeholders involved in the area will have an supporting tool for coordinated, sound land-use planning that will favor biodiversity conservation and offer a basis for sustainable development.

The project is financed by the UNDP Small Grants Program of Suriname.


May 2015 – April 2016


The main objective of the project is to develop a 3D model and a detailed map of the Upper Suriname River area (the villages of Adawai until Botopasi included) accompanied with a narrative report on the present ecosystem service conditions and the way how the local people rely on this, and on scenario modeling.