French Guiana is an overseas department/region and single territorial collectivity of France on the northern Atlantic coast of South America in the Guianas. It borders Brazil to the east and south and Suriname to the west.
French Guiana is home to many different ecosystems: tropical rainforests, coastal mangroves, savannahs, inselbergs and many types of wetlands. It lies within three ecoregions: Guayanan Highlands moist forests, Guianan moist forests, and Guianan mangroves. French Guiana has a high level of biodiversity of both flora and fauna. This is due to the presence of old-growth forests, which are biodiversity hotspots. The rainforests of French Guiana provide shelter for many species during dry periods and terrestrial glaciation. These forests are protected by a national park, seven additional nature reserves, and 17 protected sites.
5,500 plant species have been recorded, including more than a thousand trees, along with 700 species of birds, 177 species of mammals, over 500 species of fish including 45% of which are endemic and 109 species of amphibians. The micro-organisms would be much more numerous, especially in the north, which competes with the Brazilian Amazon, Borneo and Sumatra.
Threats to the ecosystem are: habitat fragmentation from roads, which remains very limited compared to other forests of South America; immediate and deferred impacts of EDF's Petit-Saut Dam; gold mining; poor control of hunting and poaching, facilitated by the creation of many tracks; and the introduction of all-terrain vehicles. Logging remains moderate due to the lack of roads, difficult climate, and difficult terrain. Logging concessions or free transfers are sometimes granted by local authorities to persons traditionally deriving their livelihood from the forest.
The beaches of the Amana Nature Reserve are an exceptional marine turtle nesting site. This is one of the largest worldwide for the leatherback turtle.