The Thriving Kaieteur National Park

Ian Somerhalder Foundation

Have you ever imagined what the world was like before toxic pollution and deforestation? Before wild animals were threatened by humans? When nature was balanced, thriving and clean? Luckily, these images do not have to reside only in dreams or stories; Earth still houses many places that seem to thrive in this ideal past. One such place is in Guyana, South America.

Deep in the rainforests of Guyana exists one of the last untouched natural habitats in the world. The Kaieteur National Park is home to many endangered and unusual species, including giant otters and jaguars. The rainforest in the park is so pristine that it still has ancient trees that were thriving when Christopher Columbus discovered the New World.

Some of the amazing creatures that live in the forest include the howler monkey. These monkeys have an eerie call that sounds like you're surrounded by ghosts, or maybe even dinosaurs if you didn't know that the noise they made came from a monkey. Click here to see and click here to hear for yourself

Another amazing resident is the golden dart frog. Click here to take a look at them. These tiny frogs spend their entire lives inside bromeliads, a flowering plant that can hold little pools of water in its foliage. If you ever come across one of these flowers, remember: yes they are pretty, but they are also very poisonous, so don't touch! Due to rainforest destruction the golden dart frogs are now listed as 'threatened'. The extinction of these little frogs would hugely impact their local habitat's biodiversity because they control insect populations. Humans could also potentially miss out on chemicals that could advance developments in medicine.

Kaieteur National Park and the rest of Guyana's rainforests are now safe and able to thrive. A few years ago, however, Guyana was considering allowing loggers to destroy its rainforest, which at the time was one of only four wholly intact rainforests left in world. Fortunately, in 2008 the United Kingdom took initiative to save these last untouched forests in a first of its kind agreement that gave a value to the rainforests, allowing for the protection of 1 million acres. It also issued carbon credits to Guyana.

A carbon credit is a system set up to reduce carbon emissions by putting a monetary value on carbon. Each carbon credit allows a country or company to release a specific amount of carbon into the atmosphere each year. Guyana's entire standing forest is now treated as a utility, like electricity. The forest has a purpose and value high enough for Guyana to agree to leave it untouched. Instead of raising money by deforestation, it can now sell its carbon credits in the markets.

In the end, the protection of these precious forests may fall not into the hands of conservationists, but of financial experts. One group of experts has joined forces to pursue this new way of saving our world's forests; the Global Canopy Programme. Click here to check them out here.

So how can you help save other rainforests? Click here to check out 'Voices For Youth', who currently have a campaign to protect rainforests in Honduras.

Also keep an eye out for an upcoming ISF project that you can join, which we'll be telling you more about soon!

We want to hear what you think about this amazing place in Guyana.

What animal is your favorite that lives in Guyana's rainforest?
Is there an animal that lives there that you want to learn more about?
Do you know the names and location of the world's other untouched forests?

Talk to us on Twitter @ISFYOUTH1 about this environmental success story!