Posted on 01 November 2010
12000 new reasons to advance a regional conservation approach.
Either in the depths of a river, on the canopy of a high tree, among the fallen leaves on the forest floor, or even meters underground, the Amazon continues to reveal the most unexpected life forms.
Between 1999 and 2009, more than 1200 new species of plants and vertebrates were discovered throughout the region - that is, one species every three days! - confirming the Amazon as one of the most biodiverse places on Earth.
The amazing discoveries, included I the report “Amazon Alive!: A Decade of Discoveries 1999-2009”, range from coin – sized multicolored frogs to a new 4 – meter long anaconda, as well as a bald parrot, a new pink river dolphin, and a tiny and surrealistic blind fish that lives in the subsoil, among hundreds of other incredible species. All of these, without even taking into consideration the thousands of invertebrate species that, because of their number, would be impossible to present in a single publication.
From the Amazon to the world
The report, produced by WWF’s Living Amazon Initiative with the support of WWF UK and WWF US, was published just at the right moment. Launched among great expectations during the Conference of the Parties (COP 10) on the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) held in October in Nagoya, Japan, the publication attracted the world’s attention regarding the urgent need to preserve the threatened natural wealth of this unique region.
“Human activities are causing increasing impacts in the Amazon; only in the last 50 years we lost almost one sixth of the forests in the region”, said Francisco Ruiz, Leader of WWF’s Living Amazon Initiative, who presented the report to the most important international media, along with WWF International President Yolanda Kakabadse, CBD Executive Secretary Ahmed Djoghlaf, and Colombian Presidential High Counselor for Biodiversity Sandra Bessudo.
The Amazon region comprises the largest tropical forest and the largest river basin in the world. With an area equivalent to twice the size of India, over 10% of land species on Earth are estimated to inhabit the Amazon biome. However, we could be losing many species faster than they are being discovered.
Ongoing development models, driven by an increasing demand for meat, biofuels and soy, the impending implementation of large infrastructure and energy projects without appropriate planning , and above all, the lack of an integral vision for regional sustainable development, are contributing to high deforestations rates and an increasing pressure on local environmental resources and services, which the whole world depends on.
Therefore, the high biodiversity rates revealed in this document represent an urgent call for world leaders to promote conservation strategies at a regional level which allow the preservation of this diversity and ensure economic, social and environmental benefits for local populations, as well as for those in distant places, such as Europe and Asia, but still within the broad scope of the environmental influence of the Amazon.