Napo Moist Forests | WWF

Napo Moist Forests

The Amazon rain forest, Loreto region, Peru.
© WWF / Getty Images / Brent STIRTON

About the Area

This Global ecoregion is made up of 2 terrestrial ecoregions: Ucayali moist forests; and Napo moist forests.

These forests of the Western Arc of the Amazon contain some of the richest plant and animal communities in the world. Over 16 species of primates have been observed in a single area, and exceptionally high diversities for many other groups of organisms have been recorded.

This diversity stems from the high and relatively seasonal rainfall in parts of the ecoregion. Rainfall ranges from 1,600-3,000mm, and sometimes to even 4,000 mm in years with especially heavy rainfall. The complex topography and soils and vast river systems create a dynamic mosaic of habitats, and complex biogeographic histories. This leads to an amazing growth of flora. For instance, more than 310 tree species exist in a 2.5-acre (one-hectare) area in the Napo forests.

367,000 sq. km (141,500 sq. miles)

Habitat type:
Tropical and Subtropical Moist Broadleaf Forests

Geographic Location:
South America: Colombia, Ecuador, and Peru

Conservation Status:

Local Species
There are between 600 and 640 bird species here, and mammal species of 180-210.

Selected species include the small, shy primates called emperor tamarins (Sanguinus imperator), white-lipped peccaries (Tayasu pecari), Ecuadoran cacique (Cacicus sclateri), Linnaeus's false vampire bat (Vampyrum spectrum), and the emerald tree boa (Corallus caninus).

Other species like ocelots (Felis pardalis), and jaguars (Panthera onca) blend in well with the dappled undergrowth.
White-lipped peccary (Tayassu pecari) in hands of local people, Peru.

Featured Species

The Linnaeus's false vampire bat (Vampyrum spectrum) is also known as the Spectral Vampire Bat. This species is the largest bat in the New World, having a wingspan of 80 cm or so (almost 3 ft) and a body length and weight of 125-35 mm and 145-190 grams respectively, The fur on the upper parts of the bats is normally dark brown, chestnut brown or rust-orange and quite short. The ears are very long and rounded. There is no discernible tail, but the tail membrane is long and broad. The large feet are robust, with long curved claws. The muzzle is long and narrow, and the teeth are strong. Underparts are usually pale, dirty gray-brown to yellow-brown - the fur is much shorter than on the back.

A formidable aerial night hunter, this large predatory species takes a huge range of vertebrate prey including amphibians, reptiles, small birds and mammals (including other species of bats). Insects are also included, especially large crickets, cicadas etc. Surprisingly, a small amount of fruit is also eaten, making this animal in the strictest sense an omnivore.

One young or pup is produced each year, and the mother is very attentive and gentle with her offspring. The male is always in attendance too and will frequently sleep with both mother and young completely wrapped in his wings.

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New and planned roads are opening the Napo Moist Forests to degradation through colonization, agriculture, intensive hunting, oil exploration, and timber exploitation.

Vast regions of the Western Arc have been ceded to oil companies for development, increasing the threat of oil spills. Deforestation for subsistence, cattle ranching and road construction also lead to continued degradation. Wildlife trade also poses a threat.
Illegal logging in the lowland rainforest. Highly quoted cedro tree (Cedrela odorata), Department Madre de Dios, Peru.
WWF’s work
In 1964 WWF began supporting conservation actions in Colombia, and in 1993 it was consolidated as a WWF Colombia Programme Office. Through field projects, WWF is devoted to the preservation of biodiversity in priority areas, by identifying alternatives and solutions where local communities and their future generations can live in harmony with nature.

WWF develops strategies to ensure long term sustainability of conservation actions, which include working with environmental authorities in policy development; strengthening of the civil society through environmental education, capacity building and communications, and by developing an up-to-date information analysis system such as the Geographical Information System (GIS).

In forest management, for example, WWF Colombia is providing support to local communities to take part in the certification process in those ecoregions, and it is also lobbying the largest forest companies to work to the standards of the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC).

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