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Peru creates vast new national park

The Peruvian government's decision, published today, to make the Yaguas rainforest area a national park is a milestone for nature conservation in Peru, for the conservation of biodiversity, for climate protection - and for the indigenous inhabitants of the Yaguas Basin.

Frankfurt, 11 January 2018 - Today, the government of Peru published their decision to make Yaguas the country's 15th National Park. The legal announcement in El Peruano is signed by Peru's Environment Minister Elsa Galarza Contreras and President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski Godard. This is a terrific step forward for the protection of nature in Peru", exclaims Dr. Christof Schenck, Managing Director of the Frankfurt Zoological Society (FZS), congratulating Peru for this landmark decision.

 

Since 2015, the FZS has supported the Peruvian nature conservation authority SERNANP financially and logistically in improving the protection of Yaguas and in driving forward the process of transforming the previously protected area of Yaguas (Zona Reservada) into a national park. The recent decision to designate Yaguas as a national park is a success for all those who have committed themselves to it.

 

“The creation of Yaguas National Park is an outstanding contribution to the protection of climate and biodiversity. It was very exciting for us to be part of the process of creating a national park and we will continue to assist Peru in its conservation efforts,"says Christof Schenck.

Yaguas - uninhabited and gigantic

The area of the "Zona Reservada Yaguas" encompasses 8,700 square kilometres of pristine rainforest. The conservation of such a huge primary forest area is of great importance for climate protection.

 

Yaguas is located in the region of Iquitos, in northeastern Peru. The area lies in the Amazon lowlands, and is very difficult to access. Thousands of different plant and animal species have been found there, including pink river dolphins, giant otters, manatees, jaguars and woolly monkeys. Yaguas derives its name from the Yagua native communities living in the Amazon basin between northern Peru and Colombia. The Yaguas river is one of the few rivers originating in the Amazon basin.

 

The Zona Reservada Yagua is uninhabited. However, the indigenous communities living on the lower reaches of the Yaguas River and the Putumayo River depend on the rich aquatic resources of this ecosystem, especially fish. Therefore, the protection of the area is vital to their survival.

 

“The indigenous communities were also a driving force behind the national park. They know that the park secures their livelihoods. We would be happy to see this kind of local commitment for a national park here in Germany," says Christof Schenck.

Strong support from indigenous communities

This decision was preceded by a more than a year-long evaluation process during which 23 native communities from the "Zona Reservada Yaguas" area advocated for Yaguas to become a national park. The communities of Ampiyacu, Medio and Bajo Putumayo specifically called for the Peruvian state to declare Yaguas a national park in order to put an end to the threat posed by illegal logging and gold panning. In a July 2017 communiqué to the public, indigenous group associations and representatives of the 23 communities urged the protection of Yaguas "because we see this as a sacred place, a nursery for animals and plants, and because we want a Yaguas without illegal activities". The Ministry of the Environment (MINAM) launched a participatory and democratic consultation process involving all the municipalities concerned.

 

The Yaguas National Park will be the 15th national park in Peru and one of 76 nature reserves protected by the state. The SERNANP State Nature Conservation Agency and the Ministry of Environment (MINAM) are responsible for the park and its designation. They received technical and logistical support in this process from a number of institutions, including the Instituto del Bien Común (IBC), Sociedad Peruana de Derecho Ambiental (SPDA), the Chicago Field Museum and the Frankfurt Zoological Society.