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Location Suriname, Commewijne,Marowijne
Central coordinates 54o 44.96' West  5o 59.33' North
IBA criteria A2, A4i, A4iii
Area 333,423 ha
Year of IBA assessment 2008

Summary North Commewijne/Marowijne IBA has been established as a Multiple-use Management area (MUMA) in 2002. It has an area of approximately 97,500 ha of land and almost an equal size of marine waters, and includes the Wia Wia Nature Reserve (12,000 ha). The reserve has been established in 1961 and enlarged in 1969. The reserve has also been declared a Hemispheric Reserve and twinned with Mary’s Point of Shepody National Wildlife Area and Shepody Bay in New Brunswick, Canada in 1989. The Management of the MUMA has been put in the hands of the Head of the Surinam Forerst Service. The area comprises of black-mangrove forest (Avicennia germinans) of several kilometer wide along the coast with scattered narrow shell and sand beaches which are mainly covered with herb vegetation such as Canavalium maritima and Ipomoea pes-caprae. These beaches serve as important nesting grounds for five species of marine turtles: Dermochelys coreacea, Chelonia mydas, Eretmochelys imbricata, Lepidochelys olivacea and Caretta caretta. Some of these beaches, as the Matapica/Walapakreek and Braamspunt beaches, have therefore been developed for tourism and recreational activities, particularly sea turtle watching. Along the coast there are also mud flats. Black-mangrove forests are also found along the Suriname River estuary, as well as in parts of the abandoned plantations. There are also deep salt water lagoons with submerged Ruppia maritime and/or Nymphaea ampla) vegetation, and silted up lagoons with halophytic herb vegetation with Sesuvium portulacastrum, Batis maritima and Sporobolus virginicus The water may vary from hyper saline to fresh water and the depth in the lagoons may vary between approx. 30 cm in the dry season to approx. 70 cm in the rainy season. Some parts dry up in the long dry season. More inland some black-mangrove forest, brackish short and tall grass swamps, brackish to freshwater short grass swamps and permanent freshwater swamps are found covered with Eleocharis mutata, Cyperus articulates, Leersia hexandr, Typha angustifolia. Machaerium lunatum and Erythrina glauca. The area has also some hydrophytic swamp wood forest consisting of Pterocarpus officinalis and high hydrophytic swamp forest with Virola surinamensis, Symphonia globulifera and Euterpe oleracea. There are also some shell and sand ridges running in east-west direction and covered with mixed xerophytic coastal wood and forest, locally rich in cactuses (Cereus hexagonus). The area is connected with the sea by several creeks. The water depth varies between approx. 30 cm in the dry season to approx. 70 cm in the rainy season. Some parts dry up in the dry season The area is known for its high biological production, breeding and feeding grounds for large numbers of local and migratory bird species and nursery ground for fish and shrimp. It has a rich population of fish, shrimp, wildlife and crabs. Plenty people of the local population have their living in fisheries and hunting in the area. The area is also known for its aquaculture and cattle breeding activities.

Site description Noord Commewijne/Marowijne IBA is a Multiple use management Area which means that it has more functions than only nature protection. There is fishery in the shallow lagoons and on the mudflats, and there is legal and illegal hunting in the swamps. As with al wetlands the Noord Commewijne/ Marowijne IBA is important for mankind because of its biological functions such as, nursery for seafish, waterfiltering and protection from rising seawaterlevel. Along with the other wetlands, Bigi Pan, Noord Coronie and Noord Sarramacca these sites are Multiple Use Management Areas wich are managed by the Surinamese goverment. These sites are very vunerable, because of the high productivity which can lead to overexploitation.

Key Biodiversity The Noord Commewijne/Marowijne IBA is part of an EBA because of the common occurence of three range restricted species, Guyanian Piculet, Blood-colored Woodpecker and Rufous Crabhawk. The mudflats and the swamps are important for the numurous North-American shorebirds.The 1% treshold is met for Scarlet Ibis, Semi-palmated Sandpiper, Semi-palmated plover, Short-billed Dowitcher. Hence it is an IBA on A2, A4i and A4iii criteria. It is the last refuge in Suriname for the Muscovy Duck.

Populations of IBA trigger species

Species Season Period Population estimate Quality of estimate IBA Criteria IUCN Category
Scarlet Ibis Eudocimus ruber resident  2006  4,500 individuals  poor  A4i  Least Concern 
Rufous Crab-hawk Buteogallus aequinoctialis resident  unknown  A2  Near Threatened 
Semipalmated Plover Charadrius semipalmatus non-breeding  2000-2004  1,200 individuals  unknown  A4i  Least Concern 
Short-billed Dowitcher Limnodromus griseus passage  2000-2004  1,200 individuals  unknown  A4i  Least Concern 
Semipalmated Sandpiper Calidris pusilla non-breeding  2004  65,000-100,000 individuals  poor  A4i  Near Threatened 
Arrowhead Piculet Picumnus minutissimus resident  unknown  A2  Near Threatened 
Blood-colored Woodpecker Veniliornis sanguineus resident  unknown  A2  Least Concern 
A4iii Species group - waterbirds non-breeding  2004  50,000-99,999 individuals  poor  A4iii   

Protected areas

Protected area Designation Area (ha) Relationship with IBA Overlap with IBA (ha)  
North Commewijne - Marowijne Multiple Use Management Area 201,215 protected area contained by site 0  


IUCN habitat Habitat detail Extent (% of site)
Wetlands (inland) Bogs; Coastal lagoons; Ephemeral pools and wetlands; Freshwater lakes and pools; Freshwater marshes/swamps; Intertidal mud, sand or salt flats; Salt pans/salinas; Salt/brackish marshes; Sand dunes and beaches  84%
Forest Mangrove  1%
Coastline Intertidal mud, sand & salt flats; Lagoons; Salt & brackish marshes; Sand dunes & beaches; Sandbars, sandbanks, sandspits  minor
Artificial - terrestrial Abandoned or fallow farmland, disturbed ground  15%

Land ownership Owned by the state.

Land use

Land-use Extent (% of site)
nature conservation and research major
fisheries/aquaculture minor
hunting major
Notes: Legal and illegal.
not utilised major
tourism/recreation minor
agriculture minor

Protection status This site is a Multiple Use Mangement Area.

References "Coastal Management Plan for the proposed MUMA Commewijne-Marowijne Suriname" by P. A. Teunissen (1997)

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Recommended citation  BirdLife International (2016) Important Bird and Biodiversity Area factsheet: Northern Commewijne/ Marowijne. Downloaded from on 20/10/2016

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