Guianan Moist Forests

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Aerial view of flooded tropical forest, French Guiana.
© WWF-Canon / Roger LeGUEN

About the Area

This Global ecoregion is made up of 3 terrestrial ecoregions: Guianan moist forests; Orinoco Delta swamp forests; and Paramaribo swamp forests.

Large expanses of relatively undisturbed montane forest stretch from Venezuela to Brazil here in northeastern South America, harboring a tremendous diversity of plant and animal species (many found only here and not in the nearby Amazon forest).

Towering mahogany, legume, nutmeg, and kapok trees - which can reach heights of up to 40 m (130 ft) - grow in this region that benefit from between 2,000 and 4,000 mm of precipitation each year.
Size:
549,000 sq. km (212,000 sq. miles)

Habitat type:
Tropical and Subtropical Moist Broadleaf Forests

Geographic Location:
Northeastern South America: Brazil, French Guiana, Guyana, Suriname, Venezuela Conservation

Status:
Relatively Stable/Intact
Local Species
This Global ecoregion has 3 'giant' animals among its inhabitants: the giant armadillo (Priodontes maximus) - weighing about 30 kg (66 lb), giant anteater (Myrmecophaga tridactyla), and the giant otter (Pteronura brasiliensis).

Mammalian richness is high, with over 220 species described in Guyana alone – of which over 100 are bats. Vulnerable, threatened, and endangered mammals include, the dog-faced bat (Molossops neglectus), bush dog (Speothos venaticus), and the water rat (Nectomys parvipes). Well-known carnivores such as the jaguar (Panthera onca), and the oncilla (Leopardus tigrinus) are also found here.

In addition, bird species such as the blue-cheeked parrot (Amazona dufresniana), fiery-tailed awlbill (Avocettula recurvirostris), bearded tachuri (Polystictus pectoralis), boat-billed tody-tyrant (Hemitriccus josephinae), and the Dotted tanager (Tangara varia) are also found here.
 / ©: WWF-Canon / Roger LeGUEN
Greater flamingo (Phoenicopterus ruber) group on shore. French Guiana.
© WWF-Canon / Roger LeGUEN

Featured Species

The largest of the armadillos, the giant armadillo (Priodontes maximus) can grow up to 1.5 m in length and weigh up to 55 kg. This species has 11-13 slightly flexible, hinged plates over its body and 3-4 over its neck. The long, tapering tail is similarly armored. The main body color is brown, with a pale yellow/white head and tail.

The especially large third front claw is used to rip up soil for small food items, mainly termites, ants, worms, spiders, small snakes and lizards. The front claws also dig a burrow in which the giant armadillo shelters by day. Unlike other armadillos, the giant armadillo is unable to completely roll itself into a ball to protect itself from predators.

Hunting and habitat destruction have impacted on its numbers and it is listed as endangered by IUCN.

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Threats
Although these forests were relatively intact until recently, gold mining, logging, and hunting are now encroaching on the area and will increase exponentially if unregulated.

In particular, logging activities threaten to destroy and fragment the intactness and connectivity of habitats across the entire ecoregion. Hunting of animals for trade is also a disturbing factor - Guyana is the second largest exporter of wild birds in South America, with approximately 15,000 exported in 1989.
WWF’s work
WWF is developing a framework to protect important freshwater and forest resources that offer significant habitat for threatened species as well as providing subsistence livelihoods for local communities. Esteros del Ibera in Argentina is one of the most significant wetlands in South America, supporting an abundance of wildlife with very restricted distribution and a largely intact ecosystem. WWF is protecting entire landscapes that house and deliver the freshwater goods and services without which we cannot live.

In places like the Amazon, Congo, and Mekong river basins, WWF is working with governments and other partners to promote the sustainable use of nature and to ensure a water-secure future.

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