World's largest tropical forest park created in the Amazon, with WWF help

Posted on 23 August 2002    
Squirrel monkey (Saimiri sciureus) in a tree. Mountains of Tumucumaque National Park, Amapá, Brazil, 2005.
© Zig Koch / WWF
August 2002: WWF welcomes the creation of Tumucumaque National Park (map), in the Amazon - the world's largest tropical forest protected area - for the implementation of which the conservation organization will provide US$1 million.

Located in the Brazilian state of Amapá, and bordering French Guyana and Suriname, Tumucumaque National Park covers 38,867 square kilometres (almost the size of Switzerland) and will ensure full protection of an important part of the Amazon Forest.

Many species live there that are found nowhere else in the world, especially fish and aquatic birds, as do jaguars, numerous primates, sloths, paccas and agoutis, freshwater turtles and the harpy eagle.

The borders of the park were strategically designed to protect its high biodiversity and were conceived by WWF-Brazil and Ibama (the Brazilian environmental agency), under the guidance of the Brazilian Ministry of the Environment.

The creation of Tumucumaque will help fulfill the public pledge made by Brazilian President Fernando Henrique Cardoso to fully protect 410,000 sq km of the Brazilian Amazon.

"Tumucumaque is located in one of the biologically richest regions of South America, and will protect very important freshwater resources," said Dr Claude Martin, Director General of WWF International in 2002. "It is a significant first step to achieve the strict protection of at least 10% of the Amazon Forests in Brazil."

The interior of the new park is virtually uninhabited, and surveys of the area failed to find any indigenous settlement. Access to the park is also quite difficult: local rivers have rapids and waterfalls that are impossible to navigate for most of the year, and there are no roads. As a result, Tumucumaque is one of only a few forests still unaltered by humans.

"Due to its geographical situation and extension, Tumucumaque Park will become the centre of a network of protected areas ensuring the conservation of unique fauna and flora in one of the last intact tropical forests on Earth," said Dr Garo Batmanian, WWF-Brazil's then Chief Executive Officer.  "Furthermore, in the long term, the new megapark will generate alternative sustainable economic activities - such as tourism - for the region."

Following the decree signed by President Cardoso creating the park, a park director will now be appointed and a base of operations will be established in order to start the detailed scientific survey of the site's flora and fauna.

Though initially only scientists will be allowed to visit the park, a management plan will be prepared to guide the use of the area.

The park will be equipped with basic infrastructure, such as surveillance posts at possible entry points, boats, radio and other equipment, and staff will be hired to patrol the protected zone.

The full cost of these measures will be paid by a partnership involving the Brazilian government, the World Bank, the GEF (Global Environmental Facility) and WWF, among others. This partnership, a result of the the World Bank-WWF Alliance for Forest Conservation and Sustainable Use, will also benefit other existing and future protected areas in the Amazon.

The US$1 million offered by WWF to Tumucumaque will help the Brazilian government to demarcate the area, prepare the park's management plan, implement the basic infrastructure and acquire some equipment.

Prior to the creation of Tumucumaque in 2002, the largest tropical forest park in the world was the Salonga National Park in the Democratic Republic of Congo. 
Squirrel monkey (Saimiri sciureus) in a tree. Mountains of Tumucumaque National Park, Amapá, Brazil, 2005.
© Zig Koch / WWF Enlarge

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