LIMA, Peru, Nov. 7, 2015 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- On Sunday, November 8, Peruvian President Ollanta Humala will approve the creation of the 3,347,005-acre national park at Sierra del Divisor, protecting an immense expanse of Amazon rainforest. The new park—which is larger than the Yosemite and Yellowstone National Parks combined—strategically secures the final link in a 67 million-acre Andes-Amazon Conservation Corridor, forming one of the largest contiguous blocks of protected areas in the Amazon, and is vital to protecting one of the planet's last remaining strongholds for wildlife biodiversity and indigenous communities.
The U.S. nonprofit organization Rainforest Trust in collaboration with Peruvian partner CEDIA (Center for the Development of an Indigenous Amazon) worked with local indigenous communities and Peru's government to create the new national park. Its establishment ends a nine-year push for protection that has involved numerous NGOs and organizations in Peru and abroad. Rainforest Trust has supported the long-term costs of establishing and protecting the park.
"The Sierra del Divisor is the final link in an immense protected area complex that extends for more than 1,100 miles from the banks of the Amazon in Brazil to the snowy peaks of the Peruvian Andes," said Dr. Paul Salaman, CEO of Rainforest Trust. "After two decades of collaborating with CEDIA to protect indigenous territories and establish nature reserves, parks and sanctuaries throughout the Amazon of Peru, we have finally completed the centerpiece with the declaration of Sierra del Divisor National Park. This permanent conservation corridor is one of the greatest refuges for biodiversity on Earth."
The new park is not only important for the biodiversity it protects, but also for the carbon it stores. Approximately 1 billion tons of carbon—an amount equal to the average annual emissions of all vehicles on the road in the United States—is safely protected within the rainforests of the Sierra del Divisor and the adjacent White-Sands National Reserve, which has also been proposed for protection.
Considered one of Peru's highest conservation priorities, the Sierra del Divisor has long been recognized for its superlative biodiversity. A brief expedition by the Chicago Field Museum found the Sierra del Divisor home to the highest levels of primate diversity in the western Amazon, as well as an estimated 300 species of fish and 3,500 plant species. The region is a stronghold for large mammal species such as jaguars and tapirs that are in decline throughout their range. It will also provide protection for the Iskonowa, an indigenous tribe living within the new park in voluntary isolation.
"Protecting the Sierra del Divisor Mountain Range from illegal logging and mining is crucial for endangered wildlife, for indigenous peoples and for the world," explained Salaman. "We're thrilled to join CEDIA on this momentous victory for the planet by announcing the final creation of Sierra del Divisor National Park. We will continue to support CEDIA's effort to protect an additional 2.3 million acres of threatened forest habitat surrounding the park to further strengthen the Andes-Amazon Corridor."
"Our project in the Sierra del Divisor builds on more than 30 years of experience of working with native communities and protected areas," said Lelis Rivera, Director of CEDIA. "The creation of this park would not have been possible without their strong support because communities know that their future depends on the local ecosystem's health. The next step is to help provide them with the technical and legal tools to meet challenges on their native lands from extractive industries."
The new park is pivotal to securing the massive Andes-Amazon Conservation Corridor, which was built by two decades of partnership between Rainforest Trust and CEDIA. The two organizations have collectively protected almost 30 million acres of rainforest by establishing land rights for hundreds of indigenous communities and by creating new nature parks and wildlife sanctuaries.
Rainforest Trust is a nonprofit conservation organization focused on saving threatened rainforest and tropical habitat for endangered species in partnership with local conservation leaders and communities. Since its founding in 1988, Rainforest Trust has saved over 11 million acres of tropical forest habitat throughout Africa, Asia, and Latin America in 160 project sites across 20 countries.
CEDIA protects the Peruvian Amazon by promoting the legal land rights of indigenous groups. Since 1982, the organization has worked successfully with the Peruvian Government to protect more than 28 million acres of rainforest through the creation of protected areas and indigenous reserves. By empowering local people to responsibly conserve and manage protected areas, CEDIA is helping to promote a sustainable future for Peru's Amazon.
Learn more about the Sierra del Divisor:
- Click to see photos and maps related to the Sierra del Divisor National Park and the Andes-Amazon Corridor.
- Visit Rainforest Trust's website to read more about the Sierra del Divisor project.
- See our media fact sheet for more information about Sierra del Divisor.
Dr. Paul Salaman, CEO, Rainforest Trust
Christine Hodgdon, International Conservation Manager, Rainforest Trust
SOURCE Rainforest Trust