Suriname has a total land surface of 163,820 km2, of which 94% is covered with forests. Forest Management principles are based on the Celos Management System which has been developed in Suriname in the sixties until the eighties. Based on the Celos Harvesting System, the annual allowable cut is 25 m3 per ha and the cycle is 25 years. In practice the average annual harvest is below 8 m3 per ha. One of the main reasons for this low figure is the heterogeneity of the forest and the concentration of the harvest on about 20 timber species. To decrease the pressure on these 20 species, it is important to harvest more tree species. This is also encouraged under the umbrella of (certification of) sustainable forest management (SFM). Promotion of lesser known timber species (LKTS) will increase harvest opportunities and improve the business case of SFM. This may also result in a higher contribution to the GDP of Suriname, which would make the forests more valuable to maintain.
The upper Suriname River area is home to about 60 Maroon villages which combined have about 15,000 people that depend on the surrounding forests for their livelihood. Additionally this forest provides other ecosystem services of great importance for Suriname, such as the potential to store carbon (that supports the national REDD+ strategy). Insufficiently planned economic development in the area, such as expansion of roads and mines, may be at the cost of local livelihoods, wildlife and ecosystem services.
Sustainable use of community forests will contribute to the development of the hinterland communities in Suriname and long-term maintenance of the ecosystem services provided by these forests. The Ministry of Regional Development (RO) has the mandate to support regional and village development and improvement of livelihoods of the indigenous and maroon communities in the interior of Suriname and needed the tools and capacity to provide this support.
This project aims to utilize a sustainable forest management system that focuses on the tendering of potential crop trees, in preference to the CELOS management system (CMS). As a spin-off of the project, some of the CELOS (Centre for Agricultural Research in Suriname) experimental plots will be re-measured to show the long-term effects of CMS.
Suriname has expressed its preparedness to follow the recommendations of the UNFCCC decision calling on countries to prepare for, and implement activities, related to enhancement of forest carbon stocks and avoidance or reduction of emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD), which account for approximately 15% of annual global emissions.