Wia Wia Nature Reserve is located on the Atlantic coast of Suriname near the Marowijne River. Shell and sand ridges run east to west, covered with mixed xerophytic coastal wood and forest, locally rich in cactus (
Wia Wia Nature Reserve is known for high biological productivity. The reserve protects breeding and feeding grounds for large numbers of local and migratory bird species and nursery grounds for fish and shrimp. It has a rich population of fish, shrimp, crabs, and other wildlife. Between the dry season and rainy season, water varies from hypersaline to fresh. The depth in most of the lagoons may vary up to 70 centimeters. The area is connected with the sea by several creeks.
The mudflats and the swamps are important for numerous North American shorebirds; more than 100,000 shorebirds have been counted during an aerial survey (fall 2004). It is also an Endemic Bird Area due to the common occurrence of three range-restricted species: Guyanan Piculet, Blood-colored Woodpecker, and Rufous Crabhawk.
Ecology & Conservation
Along the coast, there are mud flats and scattered narrow shell and sand beaches which are mainly covered with herb vegetation such as Canavalium maritima and Ipomoea pes-caprae. These are bordered by black mangrove forest (Avicennia germinans) running several kilometers wide. There are deep saltwater lagoons, which shelter submerged Ruppia maritime and/or Nymphaea ampla vegetation, and silted lagoons with halophytic herb vegetation with Sesuvium portulacastrum, Batis maritima, and Sporobolus virginicus.
The climate is tropical with four seasons: the short rainy season between December and January; the short dry season from February into mid-April; the long rainy season from mid-April to mid-August; and the long dry season from mid-August into December.
Between the dry season and rainy season, the water varies from hypersaline to fresh. The depth in most lagoons is no more than 30 centimeters in the dry season and may reach approximately 70 centimeters in the rainy season. Large parts dry up completely during the long dry season, particularly those on the seaside.
The inland park contains black mangrove forests, brackish and freshwater short- and tall-grass swamps, and permanent freshwater swamps covered with Eleocharis mutata, Cyperus articulates, Leersia hexandr, Typha angustifolia, Machaerium lunatum, and Erythrina glauca.
The area has some hydrophytic swamp wood forest consisting of Pterocarpus officinalis and high hydrophytic swamp forest with Virola surinamensis, Symphonia globulifera, and Euterpe oleracea. On the coast, shell and sand ridges run east to west, covered with mixed xerophytic coastal wood and forest, locally rich in cactus (Cereus hexagonus). The area is connected with the sea by several creeks.
The mudflats and the swamps are important for numerous North American shorebirds. The area is used by one percent or more of the entire population of Semipalmated Sandpipers, Semipalmated Plovers, Short-billed Dowitchers, and likely also for both Greater and Lesser Yellowlegs (particularly the latter, considering their very serious decline). More than 100,000 shorebirds have been counted during an aerial survey in a single season in fall 2004. This reserve has sustained a multitude of birds annually and over the decades.
Wia Wia Nature Reserve is known for high biological productivity. The reserve protects breeding and feeding grounds for large numbers of local and migratory bird species and nursery grounds for fish and shrimp. It has a rich population of fish, shrimp, and crabs. There is common occurrence of three range-restricted species: Guyanan Piculet, Blood-colored Woodpecker and Rufous Crabhawk.
The beaches serve as important nesting grounds for five species of marine turtles: Dermochelys coreacea, Chelonia mydas, Eretmochelys imbricata, Lepidochelys olivacea, and Caretta caretta. Only the former two appear in significant numbers. White-tailed deer and jaguar are also present.
Threats and Management
Because of the isolated location, poaching is not a big problem. At the moment there are no other threats, but it is likely that oil will be found south of the site in the near future. Development and drilling threaten the wildlife at the reserve and increase human activity.
Wia Wia Nature Reserve is owned by the government under the responsibility of the head of the State Forest Department and managed by the Nature Conservation Division (NCD).
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Photo Credit: Arie Spaans
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De Jong, B. H .J., & A. L. Spaans. 1984. Waterfowl and wetlands in Suriname. Research Institute for Nature Management, Arnhem, The Netherlands
Held, M.M., 1990. "Status and conservation of the Scarlet Ibis in Suriname"
Morrison, R. I. G., & R. K. Ross. 1989. Atlas of Nearctic shorebirds on the coast of South America. Canadian Wildlife Service, Ottawa, Ontario
Ottema, O.H. and A. L. Spaans. 2008. Challenges and advances in shorebird conservation in the Guianas, with a focus on Suriname. Ornitologia Neotropical 19 no.1: 339–346.
Spaans, A.L., 1984. "Waterbirds studies in coastal Suriname"
Teunissen, P.A., 1995. "The coastal zone of Suriname. Environmental threats and management".