Biodiversity and neotropical forest megafauna research

Project name:

Operation Wallacea (13)

Project purpose:

Biodiversity and neotropical forest megafauna research

Project activities:

  • animal interaction

  • data collection/analysis

  • habitat restoration/management

  • teaching​

Terrestrial

Guyana

South America

Weekly cost (approx USD):

$

850

Direct benefits you gain:

  • data/statistical skills

  • field research skills

  • gain qualification and/or credit

  • remote scenic location

Noteworthy conservation points:

  • development goals (supporting local community)

  • publishes peer-reviewed science

  • publishes work

Accommodation:

Requirements:

Facilities:

Details of the day-to-day life on the project:

**There are many different programs running with opwall for varying amounts of time. The price listed here may change upon further enquiry**

The expeditions involve trekking through undisturbed forests, where jaguar, tapirs, giant otters, harpy eagles and many other charismatic South American species are abundant.

Operation Wallacea has formed a partnership with the Iwokrama International Centre for Rainforest Conservation and Development (IIC) and the Amerindian community of Surama. The IIC manages one million acres (371,000ha) of lowland tropical rainforest in the centre of the country. The IIC represents an international partnership between Guyana and the Commonwealth to demonstrate how tropical forests can be sustainably used in the interest of global scale climate change, local communities and biodiversity conservation.

Surama Village is a Makushi Amerindian community, which has a vision to develop, own and manage a community-based eco-tourism business by using the natural resources and their traditional culture practices. Protection of rainforests is a matter of ensuring that surrounding communities can have a financial benefit from conservation of those forests, and this is the basis of many of the REDD+ type data collection monitoring projects being run by Opwall, where funds are raised through preservation of the carbon content of the forests. However, an alternative approach is to sustainably exploit the timber in the forest using a reduced impact logging protocol developed by Iwokrama so that communities can have financial benefits, but the biodiversity of the forest can be maintained.

Just under half of the Iwokrama Reserve has been designated as a sustainable use area (SUA). Within this area a 60 year rotation has been agreed where approximately 1% of the trees in the blocks to be logged are removed with detailed planning so that the cut and skid trails to remove the timber have minimal impact. This level of cutting for the most part allows the canopy structure and overall age structure of the trees to be maintained even in the harvested blocks, but since the trees removed are the high value commercial species, it generates substantial income for the local communities. This is a very impressive harvesting system and if it can be demonstrated to have minimal impacts on biodiversity whilst at the same time generating much of the income that would have been achieved from much less sensitive ways of harvesting, then this approach may have much wider applications worldwide.

The Opwall teams are helping to provide detailed and verifiable data sets on target biodiversity taxa in the Iwokrama forests both to examine the impacts of selective logging but also to quantify long-term changes in the biodiversity of the forests.

An annual monitoring programme providing equal coverage of the SUA and wilderness preserve (where no logging is allowed), as well as the forests surrounding Surama Village has been initiated, and is being completed by the Opwall survey teams. The purpose of this monitoring is to provide long-term data sets on the abundance and diversity of key biodiversity taxa so that the impacts of sustainable use within Iwokrama and the forest surrounding Surama can be identified in comparison with the non-utilised wilderness areas.

How long can I stay?

Minimum 2 weeks. Maximum 8 weeks.

When does the project run?

June to August

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