On the Northeastern coast of the South American continent, lies a small nation known as Suriname. While not the most famous of small countries, the former Dutch colony is familiar to many environmentalists as one of the world’s greenest lungs.
With 98.3% (World Economic Forum 2019) natural tropical rainforest cover, Suriname is the most forested country in the world. So that makes it one of the oldest, greenest parts of our planet.
Suriname, along with many others, is protecting rainforests as one of the last remaining essential resources. Many are small island nations and isolated countries punching above their weight to prevent deforestation. Together, the Tropical Forest Alliance estimates they cut 4 billion tons of CO2 emissions annually. This is the equivalent of taking half the world’s cars off our roads.
From 88% in Seychelles to 98% in Suriname, we use percentage of forest cover to identify the world’s greenest lungs. In this blog post, TreeCoin pays homage to those around the world helping preserve their forests.
Suriname (South America and the Carribean)
Getting the recognition of the most forested region in the world is no accident. Suriname’s reputation of the world’s greenest “lungs” is a culmination of national efforts in conservation and sustainable forest management.
Fortunately for us oxygen-breathing human beings, maintaining these forested lungs is a state priority. Charities like Amazon Conservation Team work with the indigenous of Suriname’s forests, acknowledging them as essential parts of their ecosystems. Together, they help protect and care for the forest while taking sustenance from them sustainably.
Federated States of Micronesia (Pacifics)
Almost invisible on a world map, these tiny flecks of islands in the Western Pacifics boast 91.9% forest cover. It hasn’t always been that way for the tiny republic of 105,000 people (World Bank), however.
During the Second World War, the entire Micronesia region (not to be confused with the Federated States) was the scene of bloody conflict. The US also famously used islands in the region to test nuclear bombs, with critics saying American militarization continues today.
So the fact that Micronesia has recovered to such high levels of forest cover speaks volumes. Unique for rare “montane cloud forests”, organizations like the Micronesia Conservation Trust see out sustainable development and recycling programs.
Gabon (Central Africa)
Straddling the equator on the African continent, Gabon recorded 90% forest cover last year, with huge swathes of protected parkland. Its famous Loango National Park is a coastal home to a diversity of wildlife. Whales populate its sea, and gorillas and hippos roam freely in the rainforest. Its biodiverse Akanda National Park, with rich mangroves and tidal beaches, welcomes millions of migratory birds each year.
Gabon’s success in conservation owes much to the fact that it is an oil-rich nation, with six decades of relative political stability. Many of its neighbors on the continent have been extracting natural resources against a backdrop of conflict. Gabon has done things differently.
Since 2000, it has created 13 national parks and has promoted sustainable timber management. In fact, it is expecting to become the first African nation to earn up to $150 million for results-based conservation.
Who said conservation doesn’t pay?
Seychelles (East Africa)
Perhaps unfairly, Seychelles is better known as an offshore financial center. It is also increasingly popular with blockchain and fintech companies seeking to incorporate internationally.
But this island paradise off the coast of Africa is also a buzzing biosphere of diversity. WEF puts its forest cover at just over 88%, but this ignores that Seychelles also protects vast areas of its marine territory.
A unique debt-for-conservation deal with Nature Conservancy will see 410,000 square kilometers of protected marine area by 2022. That’s twice the size of Great Britain!
Protecting Earth’s lungs
We constantly talk about why forests are important to our environment. Their role in climate regulation is well-established by science. Acting as carbon sinks, water sponges and oxygen producers, forests help prevent flooding, landslides and even drought. All this, while keeping our air clean and breathable.
Gabon and Seychelles have even shown us that conservation isn’t an intangible benefit. It has been economically good for them too.
Maybe it’s time for us to get creative with conservation.