Anna Stier Project leader with the GEPOG « Groupe d’Etude et de Protection des Oiseaux en Guyane » (Guyana bird protection study group) and an expert of the Guiana dry savannahs
What do the people of Guiana think of this ecosystem?
An anthropological study has shown that this depends on a person’s profession, culture and background. They might be considered as being “empty” spaces that need to be transformed, or as a landscape heritage that singularizes those coastal parishes where they occur.
How have things changed since you arrived?
7 % of the savannah has been lost between 2001 and 2015 but this tendency has slowed in recent years. Areas are more and more isolated and equally invaded by alien trees that tend to thrive in open spaces. Only 2.4 % of the Guiana savannah is protected whereas 75 % is classified ZNIEFFs « Zone Naturelle d’Intérêt Ecologique Faunistique et Floristique” (similar to SSSIs) – and thus known for their ecological interest. When we consider that they have 16 % of the area’s total flora on just 0.3 % of its area according to the latest information, the stakes are high.
What are the main threats to the savannah?
Mainly the overall loss of the habitat and invasive alien species, especially Acacia mangiun and the Paperbark that are transforming open spaces into mono-specific forests of alien species.
What do you want from the LIFE BIODIV’OM program concerning the conservation of this habitat?
I hope that the project will allow for more consideration and awareness of the savannahs value, be it as a natural, cultural or historic heritage. In parallel, I hope that the threat posed by alien species for these fragile and not very resilient habitats can be controlled so that we won’t see this landscape disappear from the Guianese coast.