Guyana is a country on the northern mainland of South America. Guyana is bordered by the Atlantic Ocean to the north, Brazil to the south and southwest, Venezuela to the west, and Suriname to the east. With 215,000 square kilometres, Guyana is the third-smallest sovereign state by area in mainland South America after Uruguay and Suriname. It has a wide variety of natural habitats and very high biodiversity.
Guyana is home to more than 900 species of birds; 225 species of mammals; 880 species of reptiles and more than 6,500 different species of plants. Among these wildlife categories the most notably famous are the Arapaima, which is the world's largest scaled freshwater fish; the giant anteater, the largest anteater; the giant otter, the world's largest and rarest river otter; and the cock-of-the-rock,
The following habitats have been categorised for Guyana: coastal, marine, littoral, estuarine palustrine, mangrove, riverine, lacustrine, swamp, savanna, white sand forest, brown sand forest, montane, cloud forest, moist lowland and dry evergreen scrub forests, About 14 areas of biological interest have been identified as possible hotspots for a National Protected Area System.More than 80% of Guyana is still covered by forests, which also contain the world's rarest orchids, ranging from dry evergreen and seasonal forests to montane and lowland evergreen rain forests. These forests are home to more than a thousand species of trees. Guyana's tropical climate, unique geology, and relatively undisturbed ecosystems support extensive areas of species-rich rain forests and natural habitats with high levels of endemism. There are about 8000 species of plants in Guyana, half of which are found nowhere else.
Guyana has one of the highest levels of biodiversity in the world. With 1,168 vertebrate species and 814 bird species, it boasts one of the richest mammalian fauna assemblages of any comparably sized area in the world. Guyana is home to six ecoregions: Guayanan Highlands moist forests, Guianan moist forests, Orinoco Delta swamp forests, Tepuis, Guianan savanna, and Guianan mangroves. The Guiana Shield region is little known and extremely rich biologically. Unlike other areas of South America, over 70% of the natural habitat remains pristine. Guyana ranks third in the world with a 2019 Forest Landscape Integrity Index mean score of 9.58/10.
The rich natural history of British Guiana was described by early explorers Sir Walter Raleigh and Charles Waterton and later by naturalists Sir David Attenborough and Gerald Durrell.
Southern Guyana is host to some of the most pristine expanses of evergreen forests in the northern part of South America. Most of the forests found are tall, evergreen hill-land and lower montane forests, with large expanses of flooded forest along major rivers. Thanks to the very low human population density of the area, most of these forests are still intact. The Smithsonian Institution has identified nearly 2,700 species of plants from this region, representing 239 distinct families, and there are certainly additional species still to be recorded. The diversity of plants supports diverse animal life, recently documented by a biological survey organised by Conservation International. The reportedly clean, unpolluted waters of the Essequibo watershed support a remarkable diversity of fish and aquatic invertebrates, and are home to giant otters, capybaras, and several species of caimans.
On land, large mammals, such as jaguars, tapirs, bush dogs, giant anteaters, and saki monkeys are still common. Over 400 species of birds have been reported from the region, and the reptile and amphibian faunas are similarly rich.
In February 2004, the Government of Guyana issued a title to more than 4,000 square kilometres of land in the Konashen Indigenous District as the Kanashen Community-Owned Conservation Area, managed by the Wai Wai, and the world's largest community-owned conservation Area. The Iwokrama International Centre for Rain Forest Conservation and Development was also created for the protection and sustainable use of the Iwokrama forest area.