Southwestern Amazonian Moist Forests - Ecoregion Conservation
Latin America/Caribbean > South America > Peru
The humid forests of southwestern Amazonia are widely known as one of the most biologically diverse and pristine areas remaining in the world today. The lowland forests and savanna transition zones of Peru, Brazil, and Bolivia comprise this important ecoregion of Southwestern Amazon Moist Forests (SWA) and cover more than 200,000 square miles of surface area of which 94% of forested area remains forested at present. High rainfall, soaring humidity, complex topography, soil types and meandering river systems have resulted in a mosaic of habitat and forest types which in turn support highly diverse and abundant communities, particularly of butterflies, freshwater fish and birds. This ecoregion is also home to endangered and endemic species including the jaguar (Panther onca), harpey eagle (Harpia harpyia) and the giant river otter (Ptenronura brasiliensis). This natural jewel has been selected as a WWF global 200 site and requires of immediate conservation action to mitigate current and future threats to its biodiversity.
This ecoregion is one of the least populated and consequently most biologically intact region in all of Peru. The requirements made of the land from the human population remain small and there exist very few roads into the region making it still mostly inaccessible. Potential future threats to biodiversity however include industrial mining, forestry extraction, hydrocarbon extraction, flora and fauna harvesting, and road construction as the demographic pressure over the SWA borders increases.
The Peruvian subdivision of the SWA ecoregion includes areas such as the Manu Biosphere Reserve, the Bahuaja Sonene National Park, and the Tambopata-Candamo Reserved Zone, all of which are characterized by rich flora and fauna and high levels of endemic species. Recently, a new Reserved Zone (with temporal status) has been declared in the Alto Purus River Basin areas encompassing 5 million hectares of dense forest and considered one of the foremost conservation areas in Latin America.
As WWF moves to implement its Biodiversity Vision for the whole ecoregion, the Peru Programme Office has taken on the challenge of assuring the effective management of already existing protected areas and of promoting the establishment and final categorization of other new and relevant regions. Finally, WWF Peru is supporting the sustainable management of forests in buffer zones and thus foreseeing the importnace of maintaining connectivity within the ecoregion.
In late 1998, an ecoregional team was established with participation of WWF Peru , WWF Brazil, WWF Bolivia , and several NGO partners (CDC and IIAP in Peru).
Over an 18 month period, the SWA Team developed an ecoregional conservation strategy for the Southwestern Amazon ecoregion and as a first important milestone produced the Biodiversity Vision for the ecoregion. This Vision is the product of extensive technical work and wise use of the limited information available.
During the process it was necessary to adapt the EcoregionBased Conservation (ERBC) approach in order to develop a vision that should be a useful future planning tool of regional land use and at the same time serve to guide concrete actions for controlling and mitigating threats to biodiversity.
- Mobilize conservation at the Southwestern Amazonian Moist Forests ecoregional level.
- Establish long-term conditions needed to sustain conservation within the ecoregion.
- Protect key sites (including the Tabopata Candamo Reserved Zone, the Bahuaja Sonene National Park and the Manu Biosphere Reserve) and wildlife populations.