The diversity of Suriname’s fauna and flora is rich in wildlife, including 668 species of birds, 185 species of mammals, 152 species of reptiles, 95 species of amphibians and roughly 4,500 species of plants. (Source: 1,3)
The total human population of Suriname is approximately 410,000 in an area of 164,000 square kilometres. Most of these inhabitants are concentrated in the capital city, Paramaribo, and in small towns of the coastal region. Only about 5 % of the population lives in the interior. ; m m
The low population pressure on the environment makes the conservation of biodiversity in Suriname very important. Presently, the trade of wild species and wild fauna-flora is a world-wide concern, and it is considered by many the second largest threat to bio-diversity conservation after habitat loss and fragmentation. Another source of major demand for wild species is for food, whether for personal use, for trade through bartering, or for commercial trade. There is an industrial use: the large-scale utilisation of resources for the production of consumer goods. This is typified by the pharmaceutical and health care product industry, which requires and consumes huge quantities of plant and animal resources, often from the wild, used in the manufacturing of commercial drugs, medicines, and various lotions. This latter demand for industrial manufacturing is the large-scale counterpart to the harvesting of plant materials used in traditional medicines, a demand that is already spreading in Suriname. Until now there is no information available on the commercialisation of medicinal plants on the national level as well as on the export of medicinal plants (Source: 5).
In Suriname, the export of wild animal species, involving live exotic birds, reptiles, amphibians, and primates is related to the demand for these species in its principal importing partners, namely the United States, Europe, and Japan. The domestic trade in living animals is mostly limited to a few bird species that are so regarded by Surinamese people as pets. (Source: 5)
The demand for wild plants appears to be relatively low, and as noted above, there is a widespread though small-scale use of plant resources for traditional medicine purposes. The export in wild plants is extremely low, numbering less than a few hundred specimens of orchids and heliconias annually.
The dependence on wildlife species for protein by Surinamese indigenous people and its urban inhabitants creates another threat on the country’s living resources, and for many species the demand for wild meat is far greater in size and seasonal impact than the live-animal trade. There also appears to be a small but steady flow of wild game meat to neighbouring countries, where market prices are much higher than what can be obtained in Suriname. All of these taken together, the combined demand for live wild species for food, sport, and the international pet trade, as well as wild plant material for industrial uses, presents a potential threat to biodiversity conservation in Suriname.
Finally, Suriname has a tremendous eco-tourism potential, and in fact, was one of the first countries to carry out successful rainforest tourism in the 1970’s. Major eco-tourism attractions include large tracts of rainforest wilderness, outstanding coastal ecosystems, and cultural attractions.