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The Petites Montagnes Tortues

A site of high natural heritage value to protect

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Territory : French Guiana
Area : 25,000 ha
Status : Unprotected
Owner : French state
Management authority : ONF(National Forestry Agency).
Biotopes : Primary forests on a Quartz Massif with and rock shelters for Guianan Cock-of-the-rock
Uses : Gold mining potential, hunting, logging, hiking

South of the Kaw-Roura National Nature Reserve, 15 km from Régina, the Petites Montagnes Tortues form a massif of exceptional geology. Quartzite, a siliceous rock made up of pieces of quartz which constitute the massif, is particularly rare in French Guiana and is only found in the Petites Montagnes Tortues and the Massifs des Chevaux.

Montañas Petites Tortues, Guayana, P. Studer

Along with this geological specificity, the site boasts a particularly rich vegetation, with twenty remarkable species, and provides highly attractive habitats for fauna. Lowland forests on lateritic soil, which are frequent on the massif, are the preferred habitat of the Guianan Cock-of the-rock. These forests formed on laterite outcrops provide this emblematic species with the rock shelters it depends on. Numerous perched marshes are also of biological interest, particularly due to the presence of large amphibian populations.

The site has significant tourism potential due to its high landscape and heritage value. The ONF ( National Forestry Agency ) has integrated it in a project to create a network of trails to link several neighboring towns. The development of such tourist activities must be compatible with the conservation of endangered species such as the Guianan Cock-of-the-rock.

This is all the more urgent as the species is also threatened by applications for exploration and mining permits in the area. In French Guiana, gold mining has been responsible for the loss of 15,000 hectares of forest in 16 years and the polluting of 1/5 of the country’s waterways with mercury. It is estimated that this activity leads to the discharging of 10 tons of mercury into rivers every year. Logging and mining activities in French Guiana pose problems for the future of biodiversity if they are carried out without taking the conservation of forest fauna and flora into account, because 86% of the bird species for whom forest habitats are essential can only tolerate a moderate level of degradation and disturbance of their habitat, with 45% of them requiring virtually primary habitat.

It is therefore urgent to identify and protect biotopes inhabited by the Guianan Cock-of-the-rock.

Keywords : French Guiana, The Petites Montagnes Tortues, Guianan Cock-of-the-rock

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