BIGI PAN Combining environmental protection and exploitation of resources

Bigi Pan is a protected area on the border with Guyana that is known for the socio-economic value it has for its inhabitants. Bigi Pan covers 130,000 hectares, with an equal portion of land and marine zones. It is classified as a Category VI Protected Area according to the criteria of the IUCN (International Union for the Conservation of Nature). In 1987 it was declared that unless major and irreversible risks to the environment were observed, economic activity could continue in Bigi Pan. In the meantime, fishermen working in the lagoons, rivers, and on the coasts are able to benefit from this brackish* ecosystem. The zone has a large number of bird species, 127 in all, of which 50 migrate from North America, and so the reserve has been designated a Western Hemisphere Reserve for migratory birds. But over the past few years Bigi Pan has been in danger. Biodiversity At Bigi Pan it is easy to observe the interaction between biotic*and abiotic* factors. When it has rained the lagoons and depressions fill with water. The place then becomes accessible to surveillance vessels, fishermen, hunters, and ornithologists. The hydrology is influenced by the La Coronie freshwater marsh, the Nickerie river, the sea, the wind, and the precipitation. In sectors where water only occurs in depressions at high tide, the ecosystems are less productive and no fishing or leisure activities are allowed. The aquatic fauna and flora depend upon the quality of the water, which...

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