Sierra del Divisor National Park in Peru
- 2 months ago
The Sierra del Divisor region along the Peru-Brazil Border in the heart of the Amazon Basin, constitutes the world’s newest National Park, formed on November 8, 2015. It stretches from the deepest parts of the Amazon rainforest and into the foothills of the Andes Mountain range, forming one of the largest contiguous blocks of protected land in Latin America. The National Park encompasses a massive 1.3 million hectares —larger than Yosemite and Yellowstone National Parks combined.
Sierra del Divisor’s landscape is characterized by rugged geography and lowland volcanic mountains, the only such region in the Amazon, which is essentially very flat. The dramatic landscape is made up of waterfalls, dormant volcanic cones, wild rivers, remote lakes, jagged canyons and lush rainforest. The most striking feature of this region is “El Cono”, a dormant volcanic cone, and one of many scattered along the southern end of the mountain range. El Cono rises more than 1,600 feet above the plains of the Amazon rainforest surrounding it and is the symbol of Sierra del Divisor.
Due to its unique geological formations, Sierra del Divisor is home to an impressive number of endemic species that cannot be found anywhere else. But because the region is so remote that scientific study of the area didn’t happen until a few decades ago. In a 2005 survey, researchers found several dozen species in the area that are new to science entirely. Based upon these findings, researchers expect that future surveys will lead to the discovery of even more species.
Sierra del Divisor is also home to several uncontacted indigenous tribes totaling 300 to 400 people, who live in isolation from the outside world.
Although Sierra del Divisor achieved the status of a “Reserved Zone” in 2006, the Peruvian Government has not been successful in protecting the area from encroachment and from a variety of human threats. Over the last few decades, various invasive projects including oil exploration, gas pipelines and road construction have been proposed. Neighboring areas have already been devastated by mining and logging. Unregulated commercial fishing as well as hunting have threatened the animal population. The area also attracts poachers because of its many exotic and rare species.
The creation of the Sierra del Divisor National Park last November is seen as one of the biggest achievements in rainforest conservation in recent times by conservationists.
“It is a confirmation of the Peruvian government’s commitment to conservation, sustainable development and the fight against climate change,” wrote Peru’s Environment Minister Manuel Pulgar-Vidal on Twitter, the day the park was announced.
“We want to preserve this geographic area as an important part of the lungs that allow us to purify the air of the world and, moreover, to save it from illegal activities such as illegal logging, drug trafficking and other activities that deforest our jungles,” said President Humala during the official announcement.
Sierra del Divisor National Park is important not only for its rich biodiversity, but also because it is the second-biggest storehouse of above-ground carbon in Peru. Research indicates the region’s forests contain 165 million metric tons of carbon, which is roughly equivalent to the amount of carbon dioxide emissions released every year by more than 127 million cars, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.