Bolivia designates world’s largest protected wetland



Posted on 04 February 2013  | 
Bolivia has designated a huge 6,9 million ha area of Amazon wetlands – the size of Netherlands and Belgium combined – as Ramsar Wetlands of International Importance, helping ensure their future survival.

Announced to mark the annual World Wetlands Day in February, the Llanos De Moxos wetlands are the largest ever registered under the Ramsar Convention. This Convention, which was agreed at the Iranian city of Ramsar in 1971 and aims to achieve the conservation and wise use of wetlands worldwide, was supported as one of WWF’s earliest initiatives. Since then, more than 2,000 sites covering over 200 million ha have been designated as Ramsar wetland sites, and WWF has helped achieve more than half of these, mostly in the last decade as the seriously degraded state of the world’s freshwater ecosystems has become ever more apparent.

The Llanos de Moxos, located near the borders of Bolivia, Peru and Brazil, consists of tropical savannas with cyclical droughts and floods. The region is traversed by three major rivers, the Beni, Mamoré and Itenez (or Guaporé), which converge to form the Madeira River, the major southern tributary of the Amazon River and a WWF conservation priority. The wetlands are important to avoid floods, maintain minimum flows in the rivers during the dry season and regulate the region’s hydrological cycle.

These wetlands are especially prized for their cultural value and rich natural diversity: 131 species of mammals have been identified to date, 568 different birds, 102 reptiles, 62 amphibians, 625 fish and at least 1,000 plant species. Several species – including the giant otter and the Bolivian river dolphin – are threatened with extinction.

“WWF applauds the government of Bolivia for taking bold action to protect these vital ecosystems,” said Jim Leape, WWF International Director General. “The Amazon basin, covering nine countries, supports native and endemic species, and the millions of people who live there – and plays an essential role in regulating the climate we all depend on”.

Posted: 14 March 213; Updated 29 April 2013
Palms in Lake Rogaguado, Beni, Bolivia.
© WWF-Bolivia / Omar Rocha Enlarge

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