It has been a bit quiet over here the last weeks, I’m sorry about that! But it wasn’t without a reason, I was in Surinam 🙂
Not just for fun, although I had a lot, we went to Surinam with school. So that meant that it was some busy weeks, doing a lot of forest inventory, both in the education forest as in the community forest and other research. But also having a lot of fun in the forest and on our weekends of.
In the first week, we stayed at Jan Starke Opleidings en Ontspannings centrum (JSOOC). It is a place that is used for giving lessons and training for people that are working in the forest industrie in Surinam. There are cabins where you can sleep, the facilities you can use and the most important an education forest. And that was exactly the reason why where there.
We did a lot of different exercises inside that education forest. we started the week with walking transects. But every start is rough, so even ours. We had some problems finding our startpoint. There should be a path leading it towards it, at least on the map. When we finally made it to our starting point, after climbing over a lot of fallen trees, we also started with our first plot on the transect. But there was so little time left we could only keep walking before it would get dark. But even on just walking we were not really lucky. We walked into 2 wasp nests, I have never seen people running that hard for wasps. But by the second time, it went wrong and one of the boys got his machete in his knee. So far day 1.
Luckely for us the others day went a lot smoother and we were able to for fill all our tasks. We also saw a lot of amazing animals, I say a red-eared slider, another group even saw a boa constrictor. There are a lot of different birds, from a small als your handpalm to a big bird of prey. We also saw some toucans! And for me, the highlight was seeing a golden handed tamarin and the famous squirrel monkey.
Relaxing in nature
We also had moments where we could just relax, without thinking about the exercises. The bus rides to Pokigron, that took about 2,5 hours each, where a lovely moment to put music in your ears and just staring outside. Looking the all the different plants and trees that where growing. And if you were lucky, you could see some wildlife. But the absolute highlight of relaxing was the day that we had off in an eco-resort situated on the side of the Surinam river. A full day of doing nothing, swimming in the river, having the fun walk over an already existing path. But swimming was favourite, the water was lovely perfect temperature and there was a rapid where you could sit in. As long as you stayed on the side and had a firm grip on the rocks, is wat lovely.
The travelling to that resort was also great, but the way to it went a bit wrong. the water was too low because of the dry season so we all had to get out of the boat for it to be able to pass the rapid. But one of the motors on the boat broke down. And it was already getting dark so when there finally was a new boat to bring us further, it was completely dark. It did a little pray and hoped for the best. But the guys who were driving the boat has been doing it since he has been born. So he knew every single rock and we alle get save to the resort. The way back went a lot smoother, it was light and nothing broke down. I just looked around and enjoyed all the beautiful nature alongside the riverbanks.
On our free Saturday, we had the opportunity to went on a trip to look for dolphins. And that was the perfect trip for a day off. We went with a guy who works for WWF in Surinam, studying the dolphins, sea turtles and also a lot of processes that are happening in the river or on the beach. So he knew a lot about the area we were in. We did saw the dolphins, and it was amazing. They were not scared at all and were jumping out of the water really close to the boat. I tried to take photo’s but there were so incredibly fast, that it did not really work. But I do have some photo’s where you can see that there is a dolphin on it.
Besides the dolphins there were a lot of other things to see, we saw a lot of white herons, also some blue ones, we saw some red ibises and Fregat birds! At the end of the river, where it meets the sea, we got out of the boat. We went for a lovely beach walk. There was a lot to find on the beach, from parts of mangrove trees, which wood is really really heavy! to lots of different seeds. We also find remains of the eggs from sea turtles. The beach we were is one of the places where the sea turtles are laying their eggs, unfortunately, we where in the wrong season. We had to be satisfied with the remains of the eggs.
Reason for the trip
We, of course, also had a reason for this trip. This semester we have to write a forest management plan for a community forest based at Pokigron. A community forest is a forest that has been given to a local community, in this case, the village of Pokigron. They can use this forest to gather products (Non-timber forest products) like seeds and fruits and also they can harvest timber to make income. Now we are going to help them to make good use of the forest, in a sustainable way. Basically that they can have everything they need: like food, raw products and income, but without exploiting the forest too much. The forest has to be able to survive everything that will happen inside it.
So we where in Surinam, not only to learn a lot about conducting fieldwork and living in an area that is so different from what we are used to. But also to gather the data we need for making our forest management plan. We can not write a plan if we do not know what is available in the forest. So everything we learned in the first week inside the education forest, we did now again in the community forest in Pokigron.
While I’m writing down about my experience in Surinam, the school will start again in less than a day. So that means that the next few weeks will be busy, full of hard work. So that we will be able to deliver a good plan, full of good ideas and everything that is required for a good forest management plan. Wish me luck!